Wonders of God's Creation: Volume 1

Table of Contents

1. The Sky Above, the Earth Beneath: Chapter 1
2. The Wonders of the Stars
3. The All-Important Sun
4. Who Put the Rings Around Saturn?
5. The Thrill of a Shooting Star
6. What Is an Atom?
7. Bacteria - Invisible but Important
8. Traveling With the Earth
9. The Importance of the Oceans
10. Water and Ice
11. The Tidelands
12. The Miracle of Springtime
13. A Summer Thunderstorm
14. His Promise in the Sky
15. Trees Came first
16. The Lowly Acorn
17. The Desert Cactus
18. Creation's Masterpiece, the Human Body: Chapter 2
19. The Cells That Make Up Your Body
20. What Is Our Blood Made Of?
21. The Amazing Heart
22. The Human Brain: Part 1
23. More About the Brain: Part 2
24. How the Body Gets Its Oxygen
25. Had Your Copper Today?
26. What Happens When We Eat? Part 1
27. What Happens When We Eat? Part 2
28. What Happens When We Eat? Part 3
29. Lions' Teeth Are Not for You
30. About Your Liver: Part 1
31. About Your Liver: Part 2
32. Those Marvelous Muscles!
33. How Many Bones in Your Body?
34. The Intricate Eye
35. Inside Your Ear
36. Birds of the Air, the Sea, and the Land: Chapter 3
37. The World's Best Flying Machine
38. The Bald Eagle
39. The Dignified Penguin
40. Unusual Incubator Birds
41. The Tough Seagull
42. The Pretty Plovers
43. That Strange Bird, the Hornbill: Part 1
44. That Strange Bird, the Hornbill: Part 2
45. The Proud Lyrebird
46. The Ways of the Owl
47. Computer Birds
48. The Merry Rock Wren: Merry
49. The Comical Puffin
50. The Dipper Bird
51. The Wise Old Stork
52. The Beautiful Oriole
53. The Wandering Albatross
54. The Strange Kiwi
55. The Clever Road Runner
56. The Amazing Ways of Animals: Chapter 4
57. The Polar Bear
58. The World's Strangest Animal
59. The Durable Coyote
60. The Mischievous Raccoon
61. The Hedgehog
62. The Pronghorn Antelope
63. The Kangaroo Rat
64. The Anteater
65. The Mighty Elephant: Part 1
66. The Mighty Elephant: Part 2
67. The Potto
68. The Playful Prairie Dog
69. The Bad-Tempered Camel
70. The Well-Protected Armadillo
71. The Pika - a Mountain Farmer
72. Little Joey and Big Boomer
73. The Colobus Monkey
74. The Restless Caribou
75. The River Otter
76. The Ways of the Beaver
77. The Barbary Ape
78. The Sea and Some of Its Inhabitants: Chapter 5
79. A Day at the Seashore: Part 1
80. A Day at the Seashore: Part 2
81. Two Oddities of the Ocean
82. Houses Under the Sea: Part 1
83. Houses Under the Sea: Part 2
84. The Friendly Dolphin
85. The Octopus
86. The Walrus
87. Dugong, the Sea Cow
88. A Three-Ton Baby
89. The Pretty Little Goby
90. About the Salmon
91. An Alarm Clock in the Ocean
92. A Slippery One - the Eel
93. More About Eels
94. The Fishing Fish
95. The Sea Otter
96. Insects Show the Creator's Wisdom, Too: Chapter 6
97. The World of Insects: Part 1
98. The World of Insects: Part 2
99. The Twinkling Firefly
100. How an Enemy of Trees Is Stopped
101. The Amazing Honeybee: Part 1
102. The Amazing Honeybee: Part 2
103. The Lovely Monarch Butterfly: Part 1
104. The Lovely Monarch Butterfly: Part 2
105. The Exceedingly Wise Ant
106. The Harvester Ants
107. Janitor Ants and Their Guards
108. Let's Talk About Spiders: Part 1
109. Let's Talk About Spiders: Part 2
110. Let's Talk About Spiders: Part 3
111. The Ant Lion
112. The Musical Cricket
113. The Pesky Mosquito
114. Not All Flies Are Bad
115. A Living Bomb
116. A Woodland Grave Digger
117. The Paper-Making Wasp
118. The Lacewing Fly
119. The Friendly Ladybird Beetle
120. The Cicada Killer
121. The Dragonfly
122. Termites and Their Ways
123. Some More Strange Ones: Chapter 7
124. Three Little Fish
125. Inseparable Companions
126. Eggs on the Ocean
127. Snails Can Be Beautiful
128. A Lovely Snail - the Conch
129. An Unusual Fish Hatchery
130. The Melodious Frog
131. Some Unusual Frogs
132. The Crocodile's Friend
133. Flesh-Eating Plants
134. A Fish Family from the South
135. A Few Facts About Bats
136. Africa's Flying Squirrel
137. The Beautiful Darters
138. Who Likes Snakes?
139. It Fooled the "Wise Ones"

The Sky Above, the Earth Beneath: Chapter 1

"Whereupon are the foundations [of the earth] fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:6,7

The Wonders of the Stars

"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" Psa. 8:3-4
The wonder with which King David looked up on a starry night remained with him as long as he lived. Not many people today see the stars as he did, because of smog, smoke and other pollutants in the atmosphere.
Actually, without a telescope, the human eye can see only about two thousand separate stars. However, when the Milky Way can be seen, about one hundred billion stars are visible, but they are so far away that no individual star can be picked out.
Our relatively small solar system—the sun with its nine planets and moons—is part of the Milky Way galaxy. But the earth, the sun and the Milky Way are a very small part of the total heavens. Current telescopes have uncovered an estimated one hundred billion galaxies which contain more than one hundred billion, billion stars. Astronomers admit they do not know what lies beyond, and some acknowledge that this vast display had to have a "superior power" to create and control it.
We know from the Bible that the Lord Jesus Christ is the "Superior Power": "By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible...all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist" (Col. 1:16-17).
The next time you are at a beach, pick up a handful of sand. Do you think you could count the grains? Respected astronomers claim that the total number of stars in the universe is greater than the number of grains of sand on all the ocean beaches of the earth!
Who but the divine Creator could put all those stars in space, set them in motion and keep them in their orbits in perfect order? King David tells us, "He [counts] the number of the stars; He [calls] them all by their names" (Psa. 147:4). Men can only guess at the figure, but the Lord knows the exact number! Men give names to those they can see, but the Lord calls each one by name. What a reminder of His greatness and untiring interest in all things He has created!
Looking at this spectacular display, it is no wonder King David asked, "What is man that Thou art mindful of him?" Yes, God is mindful of every person, including you, and He invites you to share eternity with Him in a place of greater wonders than the starry skies. If you have admitted that you are a sinner and let Him wash your sins away in His blood shed on Calvary, you will be with Him forever in the wonders of heaven.

The All-Important Sun

“The heavens declare the glory of God.... In them hath He set a tabernacle [home] for the sun.” Psa. 19:1,4
Without the sun, all life on earth would cease. It is the source of all energy, starting with photosynthesis (the process by which plants use the energy of sunlight to produce their own food) produced in green plants and trees and the food they supply. It evaporates water from the oceans. This vapor fills the air, providing humidity to keep living things from shriveling, as well as providing the moisture for rain. The sun's heat produces winds, refreshing the air. These winds stir up the oceans and lakes, adding oxygen that freshens them also. It is the source of light for an otherwise dark and dead world.
The sun is almost 93 million miles from the earth, but it takes only 8-1/2 minutes for its light to reach us. The composition of the earth and its distance from the sun are exactly right for the forms of life the Creator has placed here. To provide the fullest benefits, God has tilted the earth's axis by 23 degrees. This exposes various parts of the world to the sun's radiation in such a way as to make possible the cultivation of twice as much land as would be possible if the earth were always at the same angle to the sun. This is very important because all of man's food originates from plants.
In space there are stars estimated to be two billion times brighter than our sun, but God has made the sun just right for our needs. It is 860,000 miles in diameter, and, if it were hollow, it could contain over a million earths! It is a huge nuclear furnace, changing four to five million tons of its matter into energy every second. Yet it does not burn itself out, nor become smaller in size. Who but God could provide such a furnace as this!
The sun dominates the nine planets of our solar system and is responsible for holding each one in its course. No collisions are possible, because the speed of each planet as it travels in its orbit, together with the gravitational pull of the sun, makes it maintain a uniform distance at all times.
Who do you think put these heavenly bodies in such a precise pattern? Who set their speeds through space and established their travels around the sun so accurately? Only God, who put all this in motion, could have kept them in the same circuits and timetables ever since they were created.
The author of Psa. 84, impressed with the majesty of the heavens, referred to the Lord as his sun and shield. "The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee" (vss. 11-12). Is He your sun and shield too?

Who Put the Rings Around Saturn?

"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" Psa. 8:3-4
The expanses of outer space are filled with wonderful displays of God's creation, but man has been privileged to examine only very few of them. With the use of space probes and new technology, some parts of our solar system have now been more closely observed, and we are able to learn more of what the Bible means when it says, "One star differeth from another star in [its] glory" (1 Cor. 15:41).
One of these displays is the second-largest planet, Saturn. This planet is approximately one hundred times the size of the earth and about a billion miles away. Circling around it is a magnificent halo of rings. These rings have always been there, but they were not known to astronomers until Galileo discovered them in 1610 with his small telescope. In recent years, space probes passing Saturn have sent back remarkable close-up photographs of these rings, leaving astronomers puzzled as to how the rings got there and what keeps them in place.
The rings surround the planet at its equator, but they do not touch it. Their position seems to change as Saturn orbits the sun in an elliptical (oval-shaped) orbit, but they are always parallel to the planet's equator. There are three major rings consisting of hundreds or even thousands of narrow "ringlets." It is estimated that there could be as many as ten thousand ringlets, which are probably continuously changing over time. The three major rings are very wide. Astronomers say the outermost ring may measure as much as 180,000 miles across.
Astronomers believe the rings are actually made up of trillions of chunks of ice, from particles as small as a grain of sand to boulders larger than a house.
Those who know the Lord God as the Creator of all things don't need to wonder who put the rings around Saturn. God Himself placed them there, and ever since the days of creation we may be sure He has enjoyed their beauty. He is the One who keeps them in their amazing pattern. King David expressed it well when he said, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork" (Psa. 19:1).
How important it is to recognize that it is God who has brought all things into being. The Bible plainly says, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" (Eccl. 12:1). It is important to not only know Him as your Creator, but to know Him as your Savior as well. “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Won't you accept His invitation to come to Him right now and accept Him as your Savior?

The Thrill of a Shooting Star

"Ah Lord God! behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power....There is nothing too hard for Thee." Jer. 32:17
It is quite possible that you were hit today by a piece of a star falling from the sky! However, the piece would have been so tiny that you would not have been aware of it. It is estimated that about ten thousand tons of "star dust" from outer space comes to the earth every year!
How thrilling to be looking into the night sky and see a bright streak of light falling toward the earth. These are called shooting or falling stars. Sometimes showers of these stars are visible.
Actually, most shooting stars are just little pieces of material no larger than a grain of sand. They have traveled millions of miles through space until, attracted by earth's gravity, they turn toward it. Traveling many times faster than a bullet, they enter our atmosphere. Friction from the air makes them white hot, and they burn up in the flash that you see in just a moment or two. All that remains is a speck of ash or rocky mineral that turns to dust, eventually falling to the ground or into lakes or oceans. It is the goodness of God that provides the earth's protecting atmosphere so these do not harm us.
These shooting stars are actually meteorites, and countless billions of them are believed to be racing through space all the time. Over the centuries, a few larger ones have fallen to the earth without being burned up and destroyed. One has been found in Africa that has been estimated to weigh sixty tons. In the Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., another meteorite weighing thirty-one tons is on display which is only part of a two-hundred-ton meteorite found in Greenland.
No one really knows where they come from or how they were formed. Some think they may be parts of a comet's tail, sweeping the sky, or particles that escaped from the Asteroid Belt that travels in a great orbit between Jupiter and Mars.
However, we can be sure that God knows all about meteorites, and perhaps He directs some of them our way to remind us that our world is just a speck in His vast creation. But what an important speck it is! It was only on this earth that He created and placed man. It was only to this world that He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus, to provide a way for sinners to be saved now from those sins. It was the death of Jesus on Calvary's cross that paid the debt of sin of all who accept Him as their Savior. It is written, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).

What Is an Atom?

"Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out: He is excellent in power." Job 37:23.
An atom is the smallest, but the most important part of everything that exists. In a one-half inch cube of any material there are about one hundred thousand billion billion of them! It is the "building block" of the Creator, the material of which all things are made. Einstein, the famous scientist, claimed that if the atomic energy in one-half pound of any substance were released it would equal seven million tons of TNT.
Researchers cannot understand how the atom, which is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons, is held together. They think it is like a magnet with positive and negative forces. However, when two common magnets are placed end to end they either attract each other or push each other apart (according to how the positive and negative ends are placed). Inside an atom this does not happen. Its parts are held together, but kept separate at the same time, with space between each one of them.
An object which appears to have no movement in it actually is composed of many billions of atoms whirling around their nucleus (center) millions of times each second, yet never flying away or ever touching one another. Here is a further reminder that "God... doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number." Job 5:8,9.
These are the smallest parts of a combined chemical substance containing a combination of atoms. Everything in the world is formed by various combinations of atoms. For instance, water is often referred to as H20. This simply means that two atoms of hydrogen are joined with one atom of oxygen to form a molecule of water. Incidentally, molecules are so small that a teaspoon of water holds as many molecules as there are teaspoonfuls of water in the Atlantic Ocean. Or, put another way, if the molecules in one drop of water were changed to grains of sand, this amount of sand could be used to make a concrete highway across the United States.
Atoms never change, but molecules can. Molecules in any substance vibrate rapidly when heated. If the heat increases enough the solid will change to liquid (even metal will do this) or become a gas (as wood does when it is burned), and the molecular structure changes.
An honest scientist must admit that there is a divine power who made these tiny but powerful elements and also controls them. The atom proves that the theories of evolution are wrong, because from its unchangeable character all matter is composed and cannot "evolve" into something else.
Scripture tells us, "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead...." Rom. 1:20. Do you know Him as your God and His Son as your Savior?

Bacteria - Invisible but Important

"The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead." Rom. 1:20
Bacteria are a tiny form of life. Some are so small that 50,000 lined up in a row would cover only one inch. Yet they are a very important part of God's creation, and without them life as we know it could not exist. They are present in water and air, and a teaspoonful of garden soil contains billions of them.
What do they do? One main purpose is to break down other materials. Bacteria take chemicals from these materials and change them into forms that can be used by other living organizms. For instance, gardeners often make "compost piles" of grass clippings, leaves, kitchen garbage, weeds and other plant material, sometimes adding dirt and manure. Bacteria attack these materials, and the process of breaking them down generates heat. Different kinds of bacteria work this material over and over and, helped by the heat, change most of it into rich, soft humus. When added to gardens, this humus helps to produce good crops.
Other kinds of bacteria convert material into ammonia, which is picked up by the roots of plants. Some bacteria change materials to carbon dioxide, which is released into the air for use by plants and trees. Man uses certain bacteria to make butter, cheese, vinegar, yogurt and other food products.
Many billions of bacteria are inside your body. Most of the body's bacteria are helpful and necessary to maintain life—one of the most important functions being the digestion of food. Without these bacteria, your body could not use much of the food you eat.
But some of the body's bacteria are harmful, causing sickness and disease. Some harmful bacteria live on your teeth and others on your skin when they are not carefully cleaned. Bacteria cause cavities in your teeth, and when you cut yourself, those on your skin can cause infection or blood poisoning.
This makes us think of Satan, a greater enemy, who does great harm to us when we are careless about our manner of life. The Bible tells us that he "as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). When this evil one comes to us with his temptations, we should immediately turn to God and pray, just as King David did: "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psa. 51:10). God can deliver us out of any temptation.
Isn't it wonderful how God has created such a tiny form of life to do such a big job? "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" (1 Cor. 1:27). Do you know our Creator as your God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your Savior?

Traveling With the Earth

"The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath He established the heavens" (Prov. 3:19). "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing" (Job 26:7).
Years ago men thought the earth was held up by a great elephant, standing on the back of a huge turtle. Others thought there was a mythological god who balanced the starry sky on his shoulders. (They didn't explain what the turtle or the god would stand on!) Scientists today laugh at those ideas, but still don't understand how the earth, weighing six thousand million, million, million tons can "float" through space, or what keeps it in motion in its precisely kept schedules. But King Solomon knew the earth and heavens were created by the Lord God, and Job knew thousands of years ago that only God could "hang the earth upon nothing."
Man has built airplanes that fly across the Atlantic Ocean at a speed of about 1,000 mph. But what is that compared to the speed you are traveling every moment of the day and night? Did you know that every 24 hours the earth makes a complete revolution on its axis and takes you on a 25,000 mile trip at more than 1,000 mph? Furthermore, that is only part of the journey you are on, for the earth also travels in its orbit around the sun at a speed of 66,000 mph. This makes 65 mph in a car seem rather slow, doesn't it?
Even these figures don't tell the whole story, for our entire galaxy of several billion stars is moving through space at 43,000 mph. Adding these figures together, we discover that at times we are racing through space at a speed of more than 100,000 mph! While we are doing this (without feeling any motion that makes us aware of such terrific speed) countless stars are passing through the heavens as well.
Who started all this motion, and how is it all kept in perfect order? God alone could create, put in motion, and keep all in perfect order, "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3).
But, as the result of sin coming into the world, there is judgment coming when "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). Thankfully, those who know Christ as Savior will be taken from this world into the safety of heaven before this destruction takes place. It is said of Abraham and other faithful people of Bible times that they "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth," and that they looked for a better country—a heavenly country (Heb. 11:13-16). Heaven can be your place of safety too, if you will come to Christ who "is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Heb. 7:25).

The Importance of the Oceans

"God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good." Gen. 1:10
The oceans cover about three-fourths of the world's surface. Although God created billions of stars and planets, none except the earth, as far as we know, has more than a trace of water on it. This is understandable, for He had special purposes in mind when He made the earth. "He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited" (Isa. 45:18). The abundance of water found on the earth is essential to the preservation of every form of life He placed here.
Without the oceans, great extremes of temperature would make life impossible, since it is the action of the oceans that makes up for the uneven heating of the sun. The earth receives the greatest amount of heat at the equator. The heat becomes less and less north or south of the equator, making the North and South Poles very cold. Millions of people, along with plant and animal life, live between the equator and these icy poles. This would not be possible if it were not for the oceans' effect on the climate.
As the sun heats the waters near the equator, they expand, creating currents that move to the north and south. These currents travel thousands of miles and, because warm water rises, they carry the heated water on the surface. And since cold water falls, the cold water the currents meet drops below and flows in the opposite direction—back towards the equator where they are warmed, and the process is repeated.
Warm ocean waters are a large reservoir of heat that has a great influence on air temperatures. Great amounts of heat are stored in these sun-heated waters. This heat is not lost through radiation as fast as it is from land. That is why the air above the oceans is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than the air above land.
Solomon wrote: "All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full: unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again" (Eccl. 1:7). His observation was true. The flow of waters into the oceans is balanced by evaporation, and the seas never overflow! Only a divine Creator could so delicately control these great actions so that they are always in balance.
It is estimated that in one hour the heat of the sun will evaporate over five thousand tons of water from one square mile of ocean. Think of the great amount of vapor that is lifted into the skies when the sun shines on millions of miles of ocean!
Surely God's ways are past finding out. Isn't it amazing to consider that He made the oceans to contribute to the comforts of His creatures? Have you ever thought about His ways and purposes for you?

Water and Ice

"Trust in the living God, who is the Savior [Preserver] of all men, specially of those that believe." 1 Tim. 4:10
Everyone knows that, in a container, hot liquids rise to the top and cold ones go to the bottom. Right? No, although this is true of other liquids, water is an exception. Cooler water does become heavy and drops toward the bottom when first exposed to cold air. Warm water beneath rises past it to the surface. This continues until the water temperature cools to 39 F (7 degrees above freezing). When this temperature is reached, something unusual happens. Instead of sinking, the water at this temperature remains on the top, and when the temperature drops to 32 F it freezes there. The warmer water is still underneath, but it can no longer work its way to the top.
Everyone also knows that the hotter things become, the more they expand, and the colder they become, the more they contract. Right? No, water is again the exception. As ice forms, it expands, which helps to make it lighter than the water below. The water temperature under the ice is always 34.2 (more than two degrees above freezing). Continued cold weather may make more ice form, but it is always from the top downward.
Surely the Creator had a wise purpose in making this exception. If we stop to think about it, we will discover at least one good reason. If cold water in a pond, lake, river or ocean continued to drop to the bottom, what would happen? When the temperature reached the freezing point, ice would form at the bottom, building up layer upon layer, until the whole area would become a solid block of ice. No water would remain, and all fish and other marine life would die. When the air temperature warmed up, only the ice on top would melt. The ice below would never melt under these conditions, except in very shallow places.
Not only would all marine life die, but everything living on land would also die. Water in liquid form is essential to the preservation of all life. Streams and rivers would stop flowing, ocean currents would be changed, and so many things would be affected that life could not go on. But as it is now in God's amazing creation, fish and other water creatures live normally in their liquid environment. There may be a temporary ice covering over them, but life for them goes on in its usual way.
Here is another example of the Lord’s preserving care for all His creation. But while it is good to know Him as Creator, how much more important it is to know Him as Savior. As our Savior, He gives us eternal life when we trust in His finished work on Calvary's cross. "Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:15). Do you know Him as your Savior?

The Tidelands

"Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." Acts 15:18
As we travel along a coastal highway, the changing views of ocean, woods and meadows can be very pleasant. But occasionally the road may pass a swamp or backwater bay which, when the tide is out, is so muddy and unattractive that we may pass by it with hardly a glance. Do you wonder why God made such places in His otherwise beautiful creation?
He made no mistake in any of His creation, so you may be sure that these areas, which are called tidelands, form an important part of His "balance of nature." Most of these areas are covered permanently, or at least part of the time, with a shallow mixture of salt water from the ocean and fresh water from a stream or river. For birds, fish, small animals and many insects this is a real paradise, and many of them could not live anywhere else.
Let's take a closer look at a tideland. At first it appears unattractive with a few birds here and there being the only visible life. But there is quite a bit more to it than that. First are low bushes, reeds, cattails, sea grass, clumps of flowers and other vegetation, many kinds of birds and numerous other forms of wildlife that enjoy the privacy of all this greenery. We can see that over long periods of time this vegetation has dropped blossoms, leaves and stalks, producing a soggy mat over the area. This, added to organic material floating in from the sea or washed down from the land, has made a very rich "soup" for the lives of numerous creatures.
Here is a wonderful home for all kinds of creeping, flying and hopping insects, many amphibians, as well as small animals—mice, muskrats, rabbits and others. The tidelands also provide a rest stop for migrating birds which arrive in great numbers to eat, rest and regain their strength before continuing their travels.
In this wetland numerous kinds of shellfish thrive, enjoying the rich food as the water flows over them. Many fish also swim in with the tide and feed on the "soup." Before departing on the outgoing tide, some will lay eggs in selected spots. The more we investigate, the more life we find. We know, too, that much invisible food for the water-dwellers is there as well.
Don't you think that our stop at the tidelands has been worthwhile? Through this inspection we realize a little more how the Lord God so carefully and wisely supplies for every need of the creatures He has brought into the world. But none of them are able to think about the One who takes care of them. Neither can they thank Him for this kindness. We do not expect them to know that "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psa. 24:1).
But every boy and girl and every man and woman who is able to understand how He has provided for us should be ready to "give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever" (Psa. 106:1). Do you remember to thank Him every day?

The Miracle of Springtime

"While the earth remaineth...cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." Gen. 8:22
Those who enjoy the pleasure of springtime most live in areas where winter is cold and harsh with lots of snow and ice. Springtime seems a long way off when the long, sharp icicles are hanging down from houses and barns, and the trees (except evergreens) are standing leafless.
But what is the new sound that we hear this morning? There's water dripping somewhere outside. Searching around, we find the rooftop snow has begun to melt and is running down the gutters of the house. Drops of water are forming on the tips of icicles and are dripping to the ground. Let's hurry and pull on our boots, put on our jackets, pull up our hoods and head outside. We're going to look for other signs of spring!
When we get outside we discover the snow and ice are slowly melting from the warm wind that has been blowing from the south during the night. As the day warms up we notice the frozen stream is beginning to show signs of melting. Water from melting snow is seeping around the edges of the ice. Soon the ice will break away from the shore, and as the melting continues a jumble of small ice floes will crash along, rushing faster and faster downstream.
But most signs of spring are silent. One of the first is a plant called skunk cabbage. As far back as January its roots started growing again, and before the snow has all melted its yellow flower and leaves appear. Many insects that are coming out of hibernation are attracted to it. In the flower garden crocus plants push their bright colorful flower buds right through the snow. Pussy willows display their soft, fuzzy, gray flowers. Many birds soon appear, returning from the south, but we've been hearing the cardinal's beautiful springtime call since early February. All nature seems to be coming back to life.
Sap rises in the stems and branches of bushes and trees, and we see their leaf buds are swollen and beginning to burst open. Soon the trees of the orchard will burst forth with their beautiful blossoms. Farmers start preparing the soil for planting, and the newly exposed earth smells so good.
What a wonderful miracle springtime is! It is God's way of reminding us that in His power life can come from death. It is a beautiful picture of the change in every person's life who has accepted the Lord Jesus as his Savior. The Bible assures us, "He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).
Do you have this new life? "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

A Summer Thunderstorm

"He causeth the vapors to ascend....He maketh lightnings for the rain; He bringeth the wind out of His treasuries." Psa. 135:7
The psalmist was always impressed with the display of the elements, referring to them as the voice of God speaking to man. In Psa. 29:4 he said, "The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty." Perhaps you also have felt this as you have watched a thunderstorm, seeing the splendor of the lightning and trembling a little as a clap of thunder seemed to shake the earth. Yes, His voice is in these things.
In summer, although clear, blue skies may accompany a bright, sunny day, a storm will sometimes come up unexpectedly. Warm drafts of air, called thermals, often start this change. Rising extremely high and swiftly, moisture in thermals condenses and forms a beautiful, fleecy cumulus cloud, looking like a mound of whipped cream. But its beauty is deceiving. Within it turbulent winds form, whirling like a cyclone at speeds of over 200 miles per hour. Soon it changes its beauty into a darkened thunderhead. Inside the cloud the temperature is dropping, and soon ice particles are whirling madly about. Crashing into one another, they become hailstones.
All this violent action creates brilliant flashes of lightning. Soon the hailstones grow too heavy to stay aloft and break through, falling to earth. At times they remain frozen and, merging with one another, can become as large as baseballs, landing with enough force to dent car tops or break windows. What is God saying in all this? Surely He is reminding us that although we may be very proud and think highly of ourselves, we are as nothing in the presence of His power when it is displayed this way.
Not all storms are destructive. Usually the hail melts and turns into rain on the way down, and the soil quickly drinks it up. This is the goodness of God, as the Bible tells us: "For He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and He weigheth the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder" (Job 28:24-26).
Not only does soil drink up this moisture, but plants and trees welcome it, and the Biblical expression, "The little hills rejoice on every side," is evident, as everything is freshened. Birds come out of hiding and also sing for joy, for the rain has brought to the surface a feast of worms and insects. If the rain continues it seeps down to channels under the surface of the earth and replenishes the "water table"—a reservoir kept in the cool earth for the benefit of many of God's creatures, including man and his wells and irrigation systems.
The thunderstorm and its moisture provide just another way in which the Lord looks over all the earth and blesses it with His goodness. Think about this the next time you witness a thunderstorm. Let God speak to you in it.

His Promise in the Sky

"I do set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant [promise] between Me and the earth." Gen. 9:13.
How beautiful is the big arch of a brilliant rainbow, reaching across a stormy sky with both ends appearing to be anchored to the ground. What an amazing sight this must have been to Noah and his family. The rainbow that they saw was the first time in the world's history that God produced this wonderful sight. It was a promise from God that flood waters would never cover the whole world again. This is something to remember every time you see a rainbow.
Scientists tell us that this colorful display "is an arch of prismatic colors caused by refraction, reflection and dispersion of light in falling raindrops." It is not yet fully known how pure, clear light can carry in it seven distinct colors, nor how the colors show in perfect bands so vividly. They are always in the same order: violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red—the red always on the outside in the prime rainbow, but on the inside when a second rainbow appears as a reflection of the first one.
Students of nature are seeking to understand how a raindrop, multiplied many millions of times, can bring the colors out in this order with the rainbow remaining stationary while the raindrops are falling rapidly through the air. Surely, if there were not a control over this remarkable display, the colors would merge together and the rainbow would lose its shape. We know the power of the very Creator of the universe is the control. It is He who, while supplying the world daily with clear, brilliant light from the sun, can conceal those colors. Then, according to His promise, they shine out in the "bow in the cloud" to remind the world that He rules both the heavens and the earth—"The heavens are Thine, the earth also is Thine: as for the world and the fullness thereof, Thou hast founded them" (Psa. 89:11).
The seven colors are called "cardinal" because, by mixing any of them, other colors may be produced. For instance, red and yellow make orange; red and blue become purple. But in the rainbow we see them as pure colors.
While the rainbow is a reminder of God's earthly promise, there is something more important as a reminder of His great love. That is the value He saw when His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, shed His blood on Calvary. For it is "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son [that] cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). It is the value of that blood that protects everyone whose faith is in the Lord Jesus from the terrible punishment that is coming on this world. Before that fearful time comes, everyone whose faith is in Him will be safe with Him in heaven.
Have you put your trust in that shed blood and accepted Him as your Savior?

Trees Came first

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb...and the tree yielding fruit....And the evening and the morning were the third day." Gen. 1:12-13
It was not just by coincidence that God created vegetation and trees before He created the other living things. This way birds, animals and fish created on the fifth day, and man on the sixth, had food waiting for them. This food came from the vegetation created on the third day. There is an important fact about trees. In God's newly made atmosphere, a continuous supply of oxygen was needed. This, of course, was for the "animal kingdom" which cannot live without oxygen. In God's master plan, He designed trees and all other green vegetation to produce great quantities of oxygen, which is given off through the leaves. Air-breathing creatures (including man) help the trees in return by giving off carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide is used by the trees in the process of making oxygen and food for our use. This whole process is called photosynthesis.
Trees also cycle large amounts of water. A tree may have up to 50% of its total volume made up of water. The growth of one ton of wood requires about 1,000 tons of water. This comes mainly through the roots, with a complicated and wonderful tube system carrying water and minerals up to every branch, leaf and needle. How amazing that such a great volume of water can rise as much as 200 feet and be distributed in correct amounts to each part of the tree. Much of this water then evaporates into the air.
When the water reaches the leaves, it is utilized in the process of photosynthesis where, combined with carbon dioxide and using sunlight energy, food (glucose) is produced. Oxygen is also produced, which is released into the atmosphere.
The inner wood of the tree trunk is called heartwood. It gives the main strength to the tree. Next to the heartwood is the sapwood, which carries water from roots to branches and leaves. Surrounding this is the thin cambium layer, the most active part of the trunk, producing new sapwood and bark. The next layer is the inner bark, which carries the glucose produced in the leaves down to the cambium layer and some down to the roots. The bark, of course, is the only visible part of the whole trunk structure.
I think you will agree that trees are a most important part of creation. Not only do their beautiful structures aid in supplying the breath of life, but they also furnish food, fuel, lumber and shade, besides adding many nutrients to the soil.
There is a tree that is far more important than the trees we see. It is called the "tree of life." See Gen. 2:9 and Rev. 22:2. The tree of life represents the Lord Jesus Christ. God's created trees are essential for life to exist on earth, but the Lord Jesus Christ is essential for eternal life. Have you taken Him as your Savior? "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

The Lowly Acorn

"God said, Let the earth bring forth...the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself." Gen. 1:11
In summer the shade of an oak tree is welcome, and in fall its colored leaves are spectacular. But the oak begins in a small way.
A tiny flower on an oak tree is pollinated and begins to grow. Within a few months, it becomes an acorn, complete with its sporty little cap. A mature oak produces thousands of acorns. Every healthy acorn has the ability to produce all the parts of a new tree. However, only a few ever grow into trees, because there are many hungry mouths ready to eat them. This is just the way God purposed it. He told Adam, "Every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for [food]" (Gen. 1:29).
Almost all acorns are good to eat, but the North American Indians especially liked the white oak acorns. Squirrels and chipmunks also find acorns a chief source of food. Perhaps you have seen these lively animals scampering over a tree, cutting acorns free with their teeth. These fall to the ground and are later picked up and carried to their nests. Squirrels often hide acorns in the ground too, carefully covering them with soil. They, no doubt, intend to collect them later. However, they usually forget some, and so new little oak trees sprout from these forgotten acorns.
Some of God's other creatures also use acorns. Insects drill through the shell and plant eggs inside. When the eggs hatch, the kernel of the acorn is their food supply. Then there are woodpeckers, nuthatches, blue jays, wild turkeys and other birds that eat them. Pigs and even deer also eat them.
Surely God arranged such an abundant supply of acorns as good food for many of His creatures. The acorns that escape all these hunters and fall on fertile ground germinate in the fall. As the shell cracks open, little roots push out into the soil before freezing weather sets in. But God designed this seed so that no stems or leaves appear until spring. If they did, they would be killed by the cold of winter. In warm weather, the top growth appears, and a new tree is established.
We should be thankful to God for every kind of food graciously given to us. Let's also remember His words: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Later He explained, "My Father [gives] you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which [comes] down from heaven, and [gives] life unto the world....I am the bread of life: he that [comes] to Me shall never hunger; and he that [believes] on Me shall never thirst" (John 6:32-35).

The Desert Cactus

"Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant... but the water is [bad], and the ground barren." 2 Kings 2:19
There are about three hundred species of cacti in the American deserts, ranging from the tiny pincushion to the mammoth saguaro. All of these were created to fit into a hot and arid environment where rainfall might come only once a year. If cactus plants were unprotected, desert animals would quickly eat them. However, God has covered them with bristles and spines. Many small birds do find refuge in them, building nests among these bristles and spines where they are safe from predators. This is another way in which God has made special provision for some of His creatures.
Throughout southern Arizona and northern Mexico, the huge saguaros are often seen along the highways. Some of them reach 75 feet, and many live two hundred years or more. The important feature about the saguaro is its ability to store water. Instead of taproots going deep into the soil, God provided it with a network of shallow roots only a foot or so beneath the surface. In the larger plants, these roots may stretch out a hundred feet or more. When it rains on the sandy soil, these roots soak up the water and transport it into the plant. The plant stores the water in its many storage cells, making it look very plump and smooth. During a heavy rain, a ton (2,000 pounds) or more of water will be collected into these cells.
The saguaro has no leaves. This helps preserve its water supply, because leaves not only need moisture for themselves, but also give off water—a process known as transpiration. Looking closely at a saguaro, it looks like a coat of wax has been sprayed on it. This glossy, smooth surface is another means of preserving moisture inside.
The strength of the tall saguaro lies in the ribs that run its full length on the outer surface. These give support against the strong desert winds. The ribs are much stronger than the trunk itself, and native Indians often used them for construction material around their homes.
Many birds drill holes into the sides of the trunk and branches, making nests in the soft, fleshy structure. Normally decay would set in at such points, but the Creator has taken care of that too. A layer of scar tissue immediately begins to cover the wound, and in a short time a smooth, waterproof surface has formed around the opening.
Sometimes Christians refer to this world as being a desert place. We must admit that it is an empty, barren place, unless we have Christ in our lives, for only He can provide "living water" (John 4:10). The Lord Jesus has said, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:14). He extends a final invitation at the end of the Bible: "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17). Have you accepted that invitation?

Creation's Masterpiece, the Human Body: Chapter 2

"The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." Job 33:4
"Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding." Psa. 119:73

The Cells That Make Up Your Body

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Gen. 2:7
When God brought forth man on the earth, there was a great difference between man and all other creatures. Intellectually and spiritually man was made higher than all other earthly creatures, and man had a responsibility to perform as the image (or representative) of God.
The human body is the most marvelous structure in all of God's creation, and the cell is its vital living unit. The human body contains about 50 trillion cells! Also, every living thing, including trees and vegetation, is made up of cells. Most cells can be seen only through a microscope, yet each is separate and distinct. The membrane around each cell is so thin that it would take 2,500,000 to measure one inch. Yet it is still quite capable of not only keeping its cell separate from all others, but it determines what substances will pass back and forth through it.
Each cell is dependent on every other cell, and an amazing organization controls them all. This is of utmost importance, for life depends upon all cells working smoothly together. God has wisely provided a nervous system that takes care of this. Every cell is a specialist in its own field—bone, skin, muscle, liver, hair, etc.—and a cell made for its particular function is not able to do the work of another kind of cell.
Just think what you are made of! A single protein molecule (part of each cell) contains thousands and sometimes millions of atoms, all arranged in precise order. Remember that this is just one of thousands of molecules in one cell, and then add to that the innumerable atoms that make up the body and all its parts. Your mind could not grasp the total number, for there are just so many of them! No wonder the psalmist could say, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works" (Psa. 139:14).
If God has taken all this interest and minute detail in making man, it is certain that He must be vitally interested in how each human life is used. Furthermore, He has given man a never-dying soul and completely provided the way, through faith in Christ, whereby eternity may be enjoyed in the wonders of heaven. Have you, by faith in Him, found the joy of the "exceeding great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4) assured to every person who believes? "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5:13).

What Is Our Blood Made Of?

"For the life of the flesh is in the blood." Lev. 17:11.
An adult has about one-and-a-half gallons of blood flowing through his veins. The blood and the functions it carries out are what keep the body alive. Consider how many different parts make up your blood: one drop contains about 250 million red cells, and in the entire blood supply there are about 25 trillion! New ones need to be produced continuously, because they only last about 125 days with two million dying every second. As small as a red cell is, each one contains about 270 million hemoglobin molecules as well!
How did this come about? Medical scientists could never put such a complicated mixture together, and it certainly couldn't have just produced itself gradually. No, when God breathed the breath of life into man, He provided a complete body system with everything that would ever be needed, our blood and all its complex parts included. Nothing was left to be further developed, and ever since it has remained the way our Creator made it.
In addition to red cells, blood also contains white cells; there is normally about one white cell to 650 red ones, and there are about 75 billion of these in the blood stream. An important duty of the white cells is to fight infection. There is also another line of defense known as antibodies, which are always present to carry on the fight against infections of all kinds. Then, too, there are platelets which are half the size of white cells. The work of these can be seen when wounds on the skin heal. The platelets stop the loss of blood by forming a scab, which is the beginning of the healing process.
The red cells are constantly doing their life-giving work of carrying oxygen to the cells of the body. The white ones are often more visible to us in the form of pus, which is composed of the bacteria and dead white cells the body has used in the battle against infection.
With so much dependent on it, we can easily see that it took a wise and divine Creator to make our blood so wonderfully complex and able to continue its work with every tick of the clock.
These thoughts remind us of One who willingly shed His blood, giving up His life on Calvary's cross. The Bible tells us that "it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11). The Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood on the cross for us. If we believe that it was His blood that can make us clean in God's sight, then we will be saved and have eternal life. "By His own blood He...obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb. 9:12). Accept the Lord Jesus Christ now as your very own Savior, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

The Amazing Heart

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Prov. 4:23
The issues of life (physical as well as spiritual) are all dependent on the heart. All functions of the body rely on it as, beating some 100,000 times a day, it pumps about 600 tons of blood through the body each year at the rate of about a quart every minute.
What keeps it going? Medical scientists do not know, but think it may be brought about by certain chemical impulses. The real answer is that this is another wonder of God's creation. Only He could devise so intricate and reliable a machine out of flesh and blood.
The ten pints of blood that is in the adult body is pumped to the lungs by the heart. The blood passes through arteries on its way to the lungs. These arteries increase in number but reduce in size. By the time the blood finally reaches the lungs it has passed through about 600 million tiny capillaries. Each of these is less than half the diameter of a hair! As air rushes into the lungs when we breathe, this blood picks up oxygen from the air, at the same time discarding carbon dioxide, which the lungs exhale through the nose.
Enriched with oxygen, the blood travels a different route back to the heart where it is again pumped through the aorta into other arteries and capillaries. Thousands of miles of capillaries are needed to bring the blood to the cells, organs, muscles, tissues and every part of the body.
As the blood makes this long journey, the oxygen content gets less and less. By the time the blood has circulated through the system and returns to the first pump of the heart, there is practically no oxygen left, and it must be refueled before it can be useful to the body again. It contains large amounts of carbon dioxide which the cells of the body have given off. Once more the blood is sent to the lungs where the carbon dioxide is released and oxygen is absorbed.
How wise is the master plan of the Creator as seen in this most amazing system! If man tried to duplicate it, he would be totally unable to do so.
The heart is often spoken of in the Bible to describe our feelings and reasonings of the mind. God describes it this way: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" The answer is immediately given: "I the Lord search the heart" (Jer. 17:9-10). It is very solemn to know that nothing is ever hidden from Him. Since God knows the heart, shouldn't we trust in God with our heart? "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:5-6). What a wonderful invitation this is, and those who accept it and find the Lord as their Savior can say with the Psalmist, "I have trusted in Thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation" (Psa. 13:5). Have you asked the Lord to put this joy in your heart?

The Human Brain: Part 1

"Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?" Job 38:36.
Every part of the human body is a remarkable example of God's handiwork, and the most outstanding part is the brain, a three-pound marvel. Because the brain is so important the Creator arranged a watery cushion around it and further protected it by a strong, one-quarter-inch-thick skull. Our brain is the most amazing of all the wonders of the world. There is nothing like it in all creation, and no one really understands how it performs. It can hold within its small space more information than all the volumes of books in the largest library in the world.
Just about every action of the body is connected with the brain. You cannot wiggle your toe until the nerve center in your brain sends out the right signal, nor can you read this article unless your brain provides the ability. The brain is something like an electrical control center with various parts of the body continually sending information to it. There the proper hookups are made, and messages are sent to the brain cells responsible for that particular duty. Then that section of the brain picks out from the 200 million tiny nerve fibers the right ones to do whatever is required.
For instance, suppose your eye is irritated by a speck of dust. Immediately the message is sent to the brain. There are about 15 billion cells there, but there is no confusion as to which ones get the message. The part of the brain that controls the eyes is in the back of the head, and this part immediately takes over. At terrific speed electrical messages are sent to the proper nerve fibers. These send instructions to the tear glands of the eye to supply moisture for washing out the dust, and another message goes to the eyelid to blink when the tears come.
Let us look at another example: when a plate of food is placed in front of you, certain cells in your brain send a message for your eyes to focus on it. Another group of cells instructs you to pick up a knife and fork. Others cause your arm to carry the food to your mouth, and still others instruct your mouth to accept the food and chew it. There is no delay about this-it is all done in an instant, and you don't even have to think about it!
As mentioned, there are about 15 billion cells in the brain (about as many stars as there are in the Milky Way, or five to six times as many cells in every brain as there are people in the world) and all these cells were given to you at your birth! Each cell is constantly in touch with about 100 others, and so all are interconnected to take care of every part of the body on an instant's notice.
Only God could put all this equipment into such a small space and arrange for its performance throughout a person's lifetime. Shouldn't we be thanking Him for providing for us in this way? The words of David are good words for us to express as well: "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments." Psa. 119:73.

More About the Brain: Part 2

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Tim. 1:7.
The brain has three main parts. The cerebrum is the principal one which is divided in two halves and connected by some 200 million nerve fibers. Most of its surface is deeply folded so that its 400 square inches can fit into a small space at the top of the head. The cerebrum contains what is commonly called "gray matter." This is where the brain receives messages from various parts of the body and distributes them to the proper cells, as we have already learned. Actually, the electrical circuits and controls in the brain are more numerous than those in all the broadcasting stations of the world combined.
There are "silent" areas in the front part of the brain which do not connect to body parts. In this place activities of thinking, affection, pity, knowledge, memory, etc. are developed.
Another part of the brain is the cerebellum, which is under the back part of the cerebrum. Here control is maintained over the body's muscles. Also from this part of the brain the skills of a musician, doctor, artist, athlete, etc. originate.
The third section is known as the medulla oblongata. This is shaped like a bulb at the top of the spinal column. Here control is maintained over "automatic" things, such as breathing, heart beat, blood circulation, performance of the stomach, liver, etc. This, too, is the area that regulates emergency action in case of fright, running, fighting, or anything that puts a strain on the heart or lungs. If you are to stay alive, these things must always be controlled this way.
The brain is connected to the all-important spinal cord and is protected by the skull. The skull has been designed with a large hole at its base which fits snugly to the top of the spine. Through this hole the nerve cord descends from the brain to reach all vital parts of the body. The Creator has seen to it that they are all well protected.
How does the brain produce thoughts? What actually is the mind? No one knows except the One who has created us. All in all, the brain is indeed a superb product of His creation, with no supervision needed on our part to keep it in order.
But, sad to say, we do not always use our brain and mind as we should. The prophet Jeremiah declared: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jer. 17:9. However, if we know the Lord Jesus as our Savior, He has given us a new nature and delights to see our hearts and minds using that nature to please Him by walking in right paths.
A good prayer to express every day is, "Teach me Thy way, 0 Lord; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name." Psa. 86:11.

How the Body Gets Its Oxygen

"The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Gen. 2:7
Body cells keep us alive by performing their various functions. To do this they need a constant supply of oxygen, and this supply begins when we inhale. As the air passes through the nose, it is warmed and moistened. If foreign particles are present, little hairs called cilia stop them. Sneezing or blowing the nose clears out these collected particles.
When we inhale, our two lungs stretch like balloons being filled with air. Then, in about two seconds, the lungs contract and the air is exhaled. This takes place about fifteen or twenty times a minute. Getting a sufficient quantity of oxygen from this air and into the bloodstream is the main function of the lungs. This is why they need fresh, clean air that is free of smoke, dust and fumes in order to maintain good health.
When expanded, the lungs have a surface of about two square feet for the air to pass over, but this is not enough to take care of their work. When God designed man's lungs, He wisely added to the lung capacity without making that organ huge and bulky. He did this by forming blood channels ending in tiny sacs all over the linings of the lungs. There are about six hundred million of these sacs, which increase the capacity of the lungs to six hundred to one thousand square feet (larger than many classrooms), which is three hundred times the capacity of the lungs alone! Each one of these tiny sacs brings blood to its surface. In the two seconds that air flows over these sacs, oxygen is transferred to the blood. This enriched blood moves on to the heart and is pumped throughout the whole body.
The lungs not only take oxygen out of the incoming air but also remove carbon dioxide from the blood. This carbon dioxide is a product of the body-cell processes and must be removed. The blood carries it to the lungs where it is expelled by the lung's exhaling action.
This entire process goes on without our thinking about it, except when we have a cold and have difficulty breathing. Only God could design and make our wonderful bodies and their remarkable details, which are the same today as when he created Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God, "in whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:10), is always aware of everything pertaining to our lives. Have you ever thanked Him for His goodness in watching over you so carefully? "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord" (Psa. 150:6).

Had Your Copper Today?

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits... who satisfieth thy mouth with good things." Psa. 103:2,5.
Did you know that your body contains many substances such as elements and minerals, and that you would not live long if they were missing? The Bible tells us God "formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." Gen. 2:7. In doing so He provided man with a wonderful body, perfectly balanced with the elements and minerals that the earth contains. Not only that, but He also made food containing these substances in just the right amounts, so that the needed levels in our bodies can be maintained.
One of the most important elements is iron, which helps carry oxygen in the blood to the cells of your body. Certain kinds of meat provide iron, as do eggs, fish and some vegetables. But iron needs copper to help in its work, and this is supplied in shell fish, nuts, dried peas and beans, etc.
Everyone must have calcium to stay alive. Your bones and teeth contain more than two pounds of calcium, and it is an important ingredient in your nervous system, too. God has put this important substance in many foods, especially in dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Salt is another necessity. It is a mineral made up of the two elements sodium and chloride. Although it is essential, many people use too much. Most natural foods contain low, but adequate, levels of salt. We should be careful how much we add with the salt shaker since too much can be harmful. Phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and sulfur are all elements your body needs. Almost all foods have these items in them.
Then there is zinc which helps to make strong bones that form the red blood cells and produces substances that heal injured skin and flesh. Chromium, selenium, manganese, iodine and many others must find their way into your body systems if you are to stay alive.
Isn't it wonderful that the Lord God, our Creator, had plants and other foods with these minerals in them ready for Adam and Eve and all of us ever since then? He created these plants so that they would absorb these substances from the soil and water, and then pass them on to us. This is part of His loving care to keep us healthy and strong.
Not only has He provided the right earthly foods, but more importantly, He has given us "the true bread from heaven." The Lord Jesus said, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst." John 6:35. By this He meant that by believing on Him our hearts should never be hungry again for the empty things of this world or thirsty for its temptations. It also says in the Bible, "He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." Psa. 107:9.
Do you know this wonderful One as your own personal Savior?

What Happens When We Eat? Part 1

"For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." Psa. 107:9
The body requires essential elements to keep it alive. Food, which comes from the basic elements of sunshine, rain and soil, is the only source of sustaining life (together with water) and God has given the body an ability to take this food and change it into a usable form.
All food, to do us good, must find its way to the bloodstream which carries it to the body cells. (You have about 50 trillion of these.) But blood cannot carry and use large particles of food, so an all-wise Creator has provided a means of breaking food down into liquid form containing microscopic particles. For this purpose He has given us a very efficient digestive system. Let's look at the first part of it.
When food is not already liquid, it must become liquid and this starts with the action of our teeth, especially designed to cut, tear and grind all solid food that comes into our mouths. The chewing process not only grinds the food into small particles, it also mixes in juices (called saliva) from the mouth. The tongue helps in this mixing process by keeping the food from being swallowed too quickly and by moving the food around and bringing it in contact again and again with the teeth. The tongue also senses the texture and taste of the food so that we can enjoy what we eat.
Chewing, with food broken up into very small bits and mixed with saliva, represents the first stage of the digestive system. At this stage chemicals (called enzymes) in the saliva have already started to break down the starches in food to simple sugars which the blood can use. It has also prepared the food for the next stage of digestion which takes place in the stomach.
If man were to try to make a system to digest food, he would need complicated machinery, chemicals and acids, but still could never do anywhere near the job carried on by our wonderful bodies, designed with utmost wisdom by God—another evidence of the wonders of His creation.
If we know that, we should be careful about the food we eat. How much more should we be careful about what is fed to our minds and hearts. Jesus said, "My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world....I am the bread of life: He that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35,32-33). May God give each of us a fresh appetite for the One who is the true bread from heaven.
(to be continued)

What Happens When We Eat? Part 2

"Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about." Job 10:8
Job knew that everything about him was ordered by a divine Creator and that the workings of his body didn't "just happen."
In the last article we considered that our bodies need a continual supply of food and how the body prepares this food for its use, first of all, by the chewing process. Now, after the food is properly chewed and moistened in the mouth, it is swallowed into the throat. Once it reaches that point the eater has no more control over it, for everything then takes place automatically. The long tube between the mouth and stomach is known as the esophagus, where muscles push the food along to the stomach. Food remains in the stomach for three or four hours for further processing.
At this point we meet another miraculous structure that God has designed within us. The membrane of the stomach has about 35 million little glands that work together, making gastric juice, which, with enzymes and helpful bacteria, break down proteins and carbohydrates and manufacture all kinds of vitamins from the food. You didn't know you had a vitamin factory inside you, did you?
Eventually, all that reaches the stomach becomes fluid (with very few exceptions), and when this has taken place this organ has served its purpose. The liquified food is then automatically passed along into the next stage of the digestive process which takes place in the small intestine. The result of the empty stomach is that hunger is experienced and the appetite for more food is renewed. Mankind, in general, has taught himself to eat usually just three times daily, but most other living creatures must eat almost all their waking hours in order to satisfy the needs of their bodies. The kidneys, liver and other organs, which are eventually nourished by the food we eat, have very interesting functions, but we will not examine them today.
The way in which food must stop in various parts of the body for processing reminds us that God's holy Bible should be read with care. Through the Holy Spirit we will grow as the living Word is digested. The Apostle Paul spoke of this when he wrote of being "nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:6).
Never hurry when you read the Word of God. It is better to read a few verses and "hear what God the Lord will speak" than to read more than you can take in at one time. Good advice for everybody is found in the scripture: "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them" (1 Tim. 4:15). May our prayer be, "Feed me with food convenient for me" (Prov. 30:8).
(to be continued)

What Happens When We Eat? Part 3

"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body." 1 Cor. 12:18-20
When that sandwich, apple and couple of cookies you had for lunch have finally been dissolved by the enzymes and acids of the stomach, it all moves into what is called the small intestine. Although it is actually 20 feet or more long, this long tubular passage fits into a small area in a series of closely overlapping coils. How wonderfully God has designed all the parts of the body.
The upper part of this organ is called the duodenum. Its job includes neutralizing the highly acid material for the rest of the digestive system to handle. The pancreas, nearby, helps by sending along other fluids, as does the liver, which also has numerous other duties.
After more thorough breaking down in this part of the body, the food continues downward in the small intestine where complete and final digestion takes place. It is here that vital amino acids are produced from the proteins that are in the food we eat. Tiny blood and lymph vessels in the walls of the small intestine can now absorb this food. It is carried into circulation to the liver where final refining takes place. Blood being enriched there with protein molecules, glucose, amino acids and other components goes into the general circulatory system. All of the cells of the body are fed with this nutritious product.
The food residue, having now yielded up its storehouse of nutrition, passes into the large intestine, the colon. There is now nothing left but waste, and when this has been eliminated from the body, the entire process has been completed as far as these organs are concerned.
Isn't it remarkable how these complex parts of the body process the food we have eaten? They all work automatically, helping each other, but never getting in the way of one another. Only God could create such a plan, put it into operation, and have it continue day after day, keeping the body alive and active, sometimes as long as 100 years.
Food that we eat takes care of our needs for a little while. But Christ, our heavenly food, gives eternal life to any who come to Him, willing to admit they are sinners and accepting Him as their Savior and Lord. The prophet Jeremiah said, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart" (Jer. 15:16). Has this been your experience?

Lions' Teeth Are Not for You

"All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds." 1 Cor. 15:39
Our 32 enamel-coated teeth are marvelous structures. They are arranged so the surfaces of the upper and lower teeth correspond to work together for eating and speaking. Have you ever thought about how each one is different?
In front are the incisors, or cutting teeth, remarkably shaped for taking a bite from an apple or sandwich, or snipping a celery stalk in two. Behind these are the cuspids (called canines or dogteeth), used for tearing off bites too tough for the front teeth. Then come the two pointed bicuspids, and finally the broad, flat molars to which all food goes for grinding. All these teeth are especially designed for man's needs.
The teeth of animals are different. A lion's set of teeth would certainly not be useful to you. The Creator has provided for each one's particular need. For instance, gnawing animals, such as rats, mice, horses, rabbits and others, have incisors but no canines, since these are not needed for cutting off grass or gathering grains or other items in their diet. Because these incisors wear down from constant use, God has wisely arranged that they never stop growing during the animal's life.
All flesh-eating animals have canine teeth made strong enough for tearing flesh. You can easily see these in the mouth of a dog, a lion, a cat or a tiger. These "fangs" are used not only for eating food, but also in catching and killing it. Most of these animals have rough tongues which act like rasps for removing flesh from bones. The teeth of hyenas are anchored in big, strong jaws, enabling them to break and crush large bones. Their molars have three cutting edges to help break up the skeletons of dead animals on which they feed. All these carnivorous (flesh-eating) animals bolt down their food without chewing it and do not use their molars for grinding food as we do.
Insect eaters have cone-shaped teeth which crush hard-shelled insects. Cud chewers—cows, deer, camels—have no upper incisors. Instead, they have a hard pad which forms the food into a cud before it goes on to the stomach.
The next time you brush your teeth, see how wisely God has arranged them for your use. What He has done for mankind as well as for His other creatures reminds us of the wonders of His creation and that His eye is on all to whom He has given life.
His Word, the Bible, is also likened to food...not for our bodies, but for our souls. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts" (Jer. 15:16). It is certainly right for us to give thanks to the Lord for each meal set before us. Let us also thank Him for our Savior, "the Bread which came down from heaven." Jesus said: "I am the Bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). Have you thanked Him?

About Your Liver: Part 1

"Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?" Job 38:36
In earlier issues we have studied various parts of our bodies and how God has made all of them work together in such special ways. The liver is one of the most important parts of the body. It is certainly the most complex organ of all and is the largest internal organ. Since we cannot live without it, isn't it strange that we rarely think about it unless some trouble develops?
The liver is the body's master laboratory. It filters out impurities and waste material from the blood, manufactures organic compounds, and stores and releases nutrients required by the blood. Its work is carried on by millions of cells and enzymes, each a marvel in itself. It supplies the all-important amino acids which, among other things, control the balance of salt and water needed for the bloodstream.
A main job of the liver is to regulate the blood so it will be neither too thin nor too thick. Research scientists continue to study this amazing process. But we know that it is one of the wise provisions of the Lord God, the Creator, who has made every part of the body work together with every other part.
When we cut our skin, blood immediately appears. This flow of blood not only helps clean any dirt and harmful bacteria from the wound, but it soon thickens and forms a clot which becomes a protective scab, permitting the injured part to heal underneath. The liver is responsible for supplying the chemicals in the blood to make this happen. Yet, it is the same liver that keeps the blood from clotting inside the veins and blood vessels where clotting would be very dangerous and perhaps fatal.
When food reaches the stomach, the liver receives a signal and stands by to add vitamins, chemicals and minerals to the bloodstream. It sends its own signal to the gallbladder, instructing it to release bile to aid in the final digestion of this food. For fatty foods the gallbladder automatically sends an extra supply of bile, since fat is harder to digest.
The liver performs without any instructions that we have to control, which is good, because it senses needs that we are not even aware of. These instructions were implanted when God created man, and our livers have followed them faithfully ever since.
How good it would be if man would hear and follow God's instructions just as faithfully. "He that hath My commandments [teachings], and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).
Next week we will consider more of the remarkable functions of the liver—this important part of the body.

About Your Liver: Part 2

"But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him." 1 Cor. 12:18
The human body contains about 25 trillion red blood cells. Each cell lives only about 125 days, which means that over 2 million die every second! What happens to all these dead cells? Although dead, there is still some good in them. The liver dismantles them (something like a mechanic removing usable parts from a smashed car before throwing the rest away) and uses the good parts of the cells to make new ones. (And we thought recycling was a new idea!) The unusable parts are sent into the waste system. Isn't that amazing!
When blood from the heart circulates through the body, it loses some of its contents en route. The liver replenishes it by providing nutrients, vitamins and essential minerals before it goes back to the heart to be pumped through the body again. If excitement or fright causes a sudden surge of blood, the liver expands itself temporarily to take up this surge so the extra blood does not reach the heart all at one time. Surely "the works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein" (Psa. 111:2).
The liver is a safety valve for the heart in another way too. Some things that we eat could cause serious problems to the body if there were not some provision made to overcome them. God has also given the liver this assignment. It has thousands of enzymes which neutralize a certain amount of these materials before the liver is damaged and cannot function in its protective way. That is one reason why we should always be careful what we eat, drink or breathe.
The liver also turns starch (glycogen) into glucose, providing food for the muscles. When the muscles are active they produce lactic acid, and the liver also helps remove this acid from the bloodstream. Antibodies, also manufactured in part by the liver, are present in the bloodstream to provide protection against viruses and bacteria that cause infectious diseases.
As we think in amazement of all the marvels of our bodies, it should make us realize how completely God has provided for us. The psalmist exclaimed: "In Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God!" (Psa. 139:16-17).
These wonderful thoughts were expressed so well when God said, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you...thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jer. 29:11).
Do you know Him as your Savior, and have you thanked Him for all that He has done and is doing for you each day?

Those Marvelous Muscles!

"I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works....In Thy book all my members were written." Psa. 139:14,16
Everyone is aware of muscles. There are over 400 in the body, although we are completely unaware of some of them. Some can be easily seen, like those in our arms, and others can be felt when they ache after strenuous exercise. Probably the most important muscle in our body is the cardiac muscle that pumps blood through the body thousands of times a day.
Without muscles you could not blink or move your eyes. Muscles open your mouth and move your jaws as well as move your tongue around in its many activities. You turn or tilt your head with muscles, and every smile or scowl is produced by muscular actions. Food is moved down your throat to your stomach by muscles. The action of the stomach and much of the remaining digestive system is also under their control. Without their help you could not use a fork, sew a dress, hammer a nail or play the piano. Feet, legs, arms and fingers would all be useless without them, nor could you sit in a chair or even get out of bed. Walking requires the use of about 300 muscles, and just standing uses 144 back muscles to keep a person from falling.
Some muscles, called skeletal muscles, only work when the brain instructs them. Others, the smooth muscles, act on impulse. All consist of thread-like fibers, blood vessels and tissue, bound in bundles and enclosed in a tough membrane. Upon command from the nervous system, these provide the strength for their specific job. When God created man He designed every muscle perfectly and gave each one its own power plant through chemical energy. Calcium, potassium and other chemicals help supply this energy.
Some people incorrectly teach that man required millions of years to develop his wonderful body. But the Bible tells the truth, that God created man's body: "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life....God is greater than man" (Job 33:4,12). Man's body was made complete in every detail the day he was created by the Lord God. "His way is perfect" (Psa. 18:30). He left nothing to develop in later years. Sickness and death of the muscles and the rest of the body have come into the world because of sin. But the time is coming when those whose faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ will be given perfect bodies: "We look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be [made] like unto His glorious body" (Phil. 3:20-21).
Isn't this a wonderful promise? But it is made only to those who have had their sins forgiven because they have trusted in the Lord Jesus and the work of salvation He completed on Calvary's cross.
Have you accepted Him as your own Lord and Savior?

How Many Bones in Your Body?

"I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works." Psa. 139:14
Your body has more than two hundred bones (not counting teeth). You may think your bones are hard and solid, but they contain about 25% water and 30% organic matter, plus important minerals such as phosphate, magnesium, iron and salts. Bones form the framework of your body, storing these minerals and distributing them in just the right amounts to help keep every part of your body healthy.
Your bones also have blood vessels, nerves and marrow inside them—all extremely important. Many of these bones are quite porous to keep them light, yet still strong. What a wonderful designer and provider our Creator is!
The pituitary gland, located at the base of the skull, controls the growth of the bones as well as other organs and functions in the body. Without its controlling hormones, one arm might be longer than the other, legs would not match, and fingers and toes would grow to different sizes and lengths.
Did you ever stop to think that your hand, with its nineteen bones, is far superior to the "hands" of animals or birds? Your four, flexible fingers and thumb make it possible to firmly grasp, pull or push objects and to operate mechanical and musical instruments. Just think how your eight wrist bones provide strength and enable you to bend your hands backward, forward or sideways. And how wonderful the thumb is! Just try tying a knot or using a hammer, a saw, a needle or a pair of scissors without it.
Your feet are another display of the Creator's wisdom. Ankle bones extend backward to form the heel, while others go forward to make the sole and toes. This arrangement helps you to keep your balance. The arch of your foot, which is flexible and strong, absorbs the pounding that takes place when walking or running. If it were not designed this way, the rest of your body could not stand the shock. Incidentally, the muscles in your back also automatically keep you in balance, but if your back, legs and feet were not provided with proper bones, you would not be able to stand at all.
These are just a few of the ways our bodies remind us of how the Lord God has provided for us. The psalmist said, "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!" (Psa. 139:17).
Our thoughts toward the Lord Jesus should certainly be full of thanksgiving. It was His great love that made Him die on the cross so that, through faith in Him, we might have our sins forgiven. The invitation to us is, "O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Psa. 95:6). Have you ever stopped to think of this great love and thanked Him for it?

The Intricate Eye

"He that formed the eye, shall He not see?" (Psa. 94:9). "Thou God seest me" (Gen. 16:13).
The eye is a most amazing organ—far more efficient than any camera. The lens of the eye, surrounded by fluids, automatically keeps the eye in focus. It allows us to immediately see a distant object clearly when turning our glance from a book we are reading. It is the cornea, a clear, oval window in front of the eye, that bends light rays and sends them on to the lens.
The pupil is the channel through which these light rays travel. In bright light it appears small because it contracts, but it opens wider as the light dims. It is wide open in the dark and can increase its sensitivity to light some 10,000 times. In fact, human eyes exposed to darkness for a while can see almost as well as an owl.
When the lens has focused the image, it is then passed on to the retina—the inside coating of the eyeball. The remarkable retina is only as thick as a piece of paper, but has ten layers (like an onion). It contains about 150 million rod and cone cells. Most of these are rod cells, which help us see in dim light and separate shades of black and white. The cone cells help us see color and bright light. The retina has many blood vessels, but the cornea and lens have none because they must be crystal clear at all times.
The white of the eye nourishes the cornea and so has many blood vessels. It produces tears and another fluid which helps keep the eyes moist by flushing salt water over them. This is done when we blink, which we do about 30,000 times a day. Besides keeping the eyes moist, blinking helps remove foreign particles that might damage this sensitive organ.
Everything about the eye is automatic. Did you ever stop to think how wonderful it is that we can see stars trillions of miles away, and yet with no thought we can focus on a tiny object just a few inches away? When watching an exciting activity, the eye will send millions of electrical impulses instantly to the brain, which immediately takes over to put the information to use. The picture received by the eye is always upside down, but the brain turns it right side up.
It is difficult to understand how some can say that the eye developed by itself. The eye is actually one of the great masterpieces of the Lord God, the divine Creator. It is important to remember that our eyes are not just for this life, but we will see in eternity as well. Job declares, "I know that my Redeemer liveth...Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold" (Job 19:25-27). The Lord said, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me...may [see] My glory" (John 17:24).
These delightful promises will be enjoyed by those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. But the eyes of those who reject Him will only see Him as their Judge, rather than as their Redeemer, and they will face eternal punishment. Which group are you in?

Inside Your Ear

"Hear the word of the Lord...and let your ear receive the word of His mouth." Jer. 9:20
Sound results from changes in air pressure. The human ear detects these changes as wavelengths, vibrating from forty to forty thousand times each second. They range from the quietest whisper to the explosion of a bomb.
The outer ear "catches" sounds and sends them to the inner, working parts of the ear. Without the outer ear we still would hear plainly, but many sounds would go by unheard.
Between the outer ear and the eardrum is a twisting canal. It is lined with hairs and wax that trap dust, water and even small bits of dirt or insects that could cause damage.
The eardrum is a membrane about one-half inch across. This is where the transmission of sound begins. As sound waves hit this membrane, it acts much like a drum, and the sound travels through it to the middle ear. This has three tiny bones connected together called the anvil, hammer and stirrup. These magnify the drum's vibrations by about twenty times. The tiny stirrup then taps it all against the fluid of the inner ear.
The inner ear is a hollow area protected by hard bone. It is filled with a watery fluid and contains the cochlea, a twisted snail-like tube. This is lined with thousands of sensitive cells, each of which responds to just one certain sound. When the fluid vibrates from the tapping of the stirrup, only the nerves corresponding to that particular wavelength rise up to wave back and forth. When this takes place, a small electrical signal is made and sent to a corresponding circuit in the auditory nerve, which carries it instantly to the brain. There are about thirty thousand of these circuits ready to respond! While each tone is kept separate from every other one, confusion could easily result with so many sounds arriving at the same time. And yet, in a remarkable way, our brain separates everything into its proper order and makes it intelligible.
All of these processes are done at the same time by two ears, and the brain receives the messages in exactly the same way from both. This is another example of the wonders of God's creation. No human could ever invent anything like it nor could the body develop such remarkable parts by itself.
Since God has given us this remarkable sense of hearing, we should be careful how we use it. The Lord Himself said, "Take heed what ye hear" (Mark 4:24). He knew that many things would reach our ears, and we must learn to separate the good from the bad. And so He has invited you to "incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live" (Isa. 55:3). May each of us desire to hear God's wonderful Word, not just in our ears, but in our hearts as well.

Birds of the Air, the Sea, and the Land: Chapter 3

"Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the wouth? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?" Job 39:26,27

The World's Best Flying Machine

"Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap... yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" Matt. 6:26
The Creator made birds to excel as flying machines. Like an airplane they have wings, propellers, steering apparatus and provisions for takeoff and landing. All of these functions are performed better by a bird than by any airplane.
In another article we noted the intricate design of their light feathers. The bone structure also shows the wisdom of the Creator. Everything about the strong, flexible skeleton is designed to avoid excess weight. A bird’s reinforced tubular bones are hollow, yet strong. They contain a spongy network that fills with air as the bird breathes.
In fact, the whole breathing system of a bird is an important part of its being able to stay in the air. The lungs are a series of spaces around breathing tubes. These are connected to additional air sacs among the muscles and flesh. By pushing all exhausted air out of its lungs, a bird is able to draw back in an unusual amount of oxygen for its bloodstream. The circulation of air inside the bird has a cooling effect too. How wisely the Lord provided for these lively, feathery creatures!
Most of the bird's flying power comes from the muscles of its breast. These muscles are connected to an unusually large breastbone. The breastbone is located in the underpart of its body so the bird will not be top-heavy. The neck, the most flexible part of its body, also helps balance it in flight. It has fourteen vertebrae—twice the number that a giraffe has!
Almost all birds are excellent fliers, but many heavy ones have difficulty getting airborne. Some, like swans, need a runway. While running down their runway, they beat their wings furiously to lift in the air. They all take off into the wind, just as airplanes do. Occasionally after landing on small lakes or ponds, water birds have to wait for a good breeze in order to leave.
Others seem to be aware of the difficulty of taking off from level ground and land on high spots. From there they can benefit by the pull of gravity to later get themselves well launched. But whatever the situation with any particular bird, God has provided it with the means and skills to take care of itself in ways that amaze us.
The psalmist, thinking perhaps about these and other wonderful things, wrote, "Let them praise the name of the Lord: for He commanded, and they were created.... Praise the Lord from the earth, ye... flying fowl: kings of the earth, and all people... both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: let them praise the name of the Lord: for His name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven" (Psa. 148:5-13).

The Bald Eagle

"A great eagle with great wings, long-winged... took the highest branch of the cedar." Ezek. 17:3
Many people consider the bald eagle to be the most beautiful and impressive of all birds. Fully grown, it stands three feet high, weighs about ten pounds, and has a wingspan of six to eight feet. A mature eagle has a dark-brown body with white feathers on its head, neck and tail. Its eyes, sharp-hooked beak and legs are bright yellow.
The Creator designed this bird for its special place in His creation. It has exceptional beauty, whether sitting in a tree or circling high in the air. Its eyes can spot a mouse a mile away or a fish far below. Its main food is fish, but it also eats mice, gophers, rabbits, snakes, birds and dead animals. Spotting prey, it may circle down swiftly or make a direct dive at a speed of a hundred miles per hour, stopping suddenly as its curved talons grab its victim.
Spotting an osprey or fish hawk flying with a fish, an eagle may swoop down and frighten it into dropping its food. Then the eagle dives down and catches the prize for itself. Often while looking for food, it will perch on a dead tree high on a bluff, just as they did in Bible days when the Lord asked Job, "Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on... the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off" (Job 39:27-29).
Eagles keep the same mate for life. Their nest, called an aerie, is usually in the top of a high tree near water. They use the same aerie every year and add new material to it, so many old aeries are as large as twenty feet deep and nine feet across. Only one or two white eggs are laid each year and take about forty days to hatch.
The eaglets live on food brought to them by their parents. If both eaglets are healthy, they gain strength by playing tug-of-war with sticks or having little battles. They first learn to fly by hovering over the nest, but when eleven or twelve weeks old they leave the nest. If one is afraid to fly, the mother may push it out, then swoop below and allow it to rest on her back when it gets tired. The Lord spoke of this concerning His people Israel: "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead [them]" (Deut. 32:11-12).
Another Bible verse says, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles" (Isa. 40:31). If the Lord Jesus Christ is your Savior, you will find Him always able and willing to give you the strength needed for your Christian life.

The Dignified Penguin

"The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works." Psa. 145:9
The penguin looks like a dignified little man dressed in a formal black-and-white suit and with a wobbly walk. No other bird goes so far into the harsh Antarctic area, and God has provided everything it needs. To insulate its body against the fierce cold, it has a complete covering of short feathers that extend down to its webbed feet. It gets all its food from the ocean and can also drink the salt water.
The emperor penguin is the largest of the penguin family—about three to four feet tall. All penguins have wings, but they cannot fly. Instead, their wings are used as flippers to swim extremely fast under water. Special muscles give these wings great strength.
The adelie species gathers rocks and makes crude nests, but the emperor does not. About a month after arriving on the ice barrier, a pair has a family of just one chick. Before the female lays the single egg, she goes several weeks without eating. Then about the middle of May the egg is laid. She turns its care over to the male and then dives into the ocean to feed, and she is gone for some weeks. As this is really the beginning of winter in the Antarctic, the male has a difficult problem since there is no nest for the egg.
The Creator has provided a way to keep the egg warm. The male stands with his feet close together and rolls the egg on top of them. With the egg securely in place, "papa" pulls a soft pouch of skin down over it, making it snug and warm. He stands in this position—never moving or going for food or water—for two months!
Here is something else amazing. Although "mama" has been away all this time, on the exact day the chick hatches she comes out of the ocean, her belly big and round from gorging on seafood. There are thousands of penguins that look just like her mate, but she goes right to him. Then she takes over, putting her beak in the newly hatched chick's mouth and feeds it from her full belly. She does this until it can take care of itself. Meanwhile, the skinny male takes to the water to find the food he needs.
Shortly after the chick is fully grown it joins others on ice floes, and the currents carry them north several hundred miles to the New Zealand area or to the tip of South America. The next May they repeat the cycle all over again.
There are some who try to tell us the penguin was at first a common land bird, blown to the Antarctic by fierce storms and that over the years it adapted itself to the new surroundings. But they cannot explain how a bird from a warm climate could last even one day on the ice with no usable food or water. We know the poor birds would die the very first day. We also know that when the Lord God created the penguin, He made it exactly as it is now, so it could thrive in that part of the earth. "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth [and] in the seas" (Psa. 135:6).
Do you know the One who is your Creator and wants to be your Savior as well? That is the most important question.

Unusual Incubator Birds

"Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air." Gen. 2:19
Among the many strange birds in Australia are those called incubator or thermometer birds.
Incubator birds do not hatch their eggs by sitting on them, as most birds do. They depend upon a very different method of incubation, from which they get their name. Several pairs of males and females working together make a mound of dirt mixed with leaves, moist vegetation and anything that is nearby.
These birds have very strong legs and feet. Walking with their backs to the spot where the mound is being made, the birds move around it in widening circles, using their strong legs to kick everything they find into a central pile. As the pile gets bigger, their circles become wider and wider until they've made a hill as high as fifteen feet and perhaps thirty feet wide. Just think how hard they have to kick to get dirt, leaves and everything else up on top of that pile!
Next, each pair picks a suitable spot in the mound and makes a tunnel into it, scooping out a crude nest where the eggs are laid. Then the pair walks away and forgets about the eggs. How are the eggs ever going to hatch inside that big pile? As the leaves and other vegetation rot, they give off heat, and helped by the warmth of the sun, the eggs soon hatch. Then the baby birds come out of the tunnels into daylight to begin life on their own.
How do these birds know to work together with other pairs to make such huge nests? What makes the newly hatched chicks leave the tunnels? And how can they take care of themselves or learn from experience? We can easily see that it pleased the Creator to make a great deal of variety in His creation. Not all birds, animals, fish or other creatures follow the same manner of life. These birds are an example of this, displaying one of His delights in the days of creation. Even now He keeps them in the same pattern of life as when He first placed them on the earth. "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven [the atmosphere], and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places" (Psa. 135:6).
If the Lord cares for these unusual birds, how much more does He care for mankind into whom He "breathed... the breath of life" (Gen. 2:7). He has said, "My delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto Me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep My ways. For whoso [finds] Me [finds] life" (Prov. 8:35,31-32).
We hope everyone reading this will find Him and learn of His wonderful love. "I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me" (Prov. 8:17).

The Tough Seagull

"God... [teaches] us more than the beasts of the earth, and [makes] us wiser than the fowls of heaven." Job 35:10-11
Part of the fun of being at the seashore is watching the seagulls. They can be seen soaring high in the sky, walking on the sand, or just resting on the water. Their high-pitched "meews" are loud enough to be heard above the noise of the waves. Occasionally they will give harsh squawks when they fight over a scrap of food. There are many varieties of seagulls, but the herring gull is the most common. Its head, back and underside are white with partly black wings, and its beak and web-footed legs are orange.
Although they are pretty and fun to watch, they often fight among themselves. Most are bullies and get into fights with each other by rough pushes with stiff, half-open wings or nasty pecks with their sharp beaks. But they are part of God's creation in spite of this, and He has made them strong, swift and wise in many ways. He has also given them great skill in using air currents to glide along tirelessly with their wings outstretched. Frequently they will stay with a ship for many miles, watching for food scraps. Although mostly scavengers, they like fresh fish, clams and oysters too. Unable to break the shell of a clam or oyster, a gull will carry it high in the air and drop it onto a rock to break it open.
These birds live in large groups, making nests on the ground where their eggs and chicks attract many enemies. When a gull discovers an enemy, it gives a loud shriek. This brings the whole colony rushing at the thief with hooked beaks and club-like wings. It takes a bold intruder to risk these attacks. When very small, a hungry baby taps on a red spot on the underside of its parent's beak. The parent then brings up food for the baby to eat. They are given more solid food later.
In some ways seagulls remind us of Satan, by seeming to be so attractive when they are actually fierce and aggressive to one another. Satan makes himself attractive in the things that he offers us, but he is a deceiver and tries to bring evil into the life of every boy and girl. The Bible says this about him: "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14). Another important warning is given: "Be sober, be vigilant [watchful]; because your adversary [enemy] the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour [destroy]" (1 Peter 5:8).
As our opening verse states, God has made us wiser than the fowls. This God-given wisdom tells us that there is a place of safety from the devil: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Prov. 18:10). Have you made Him your place of safety?

The Pretty Plovers

"Out of the ground the Lord God formed...every fowl of the air." Gen. 2:19
There are many varieties of compact, ground birds known as plovers. Many are shore birds, darting among the waves as they search for food churned up by the water. They pick out pieces of oysters, clams and other bits of sea life.
Plovers are found around the world. Nine species spend all or part of the year in North America. The most common is the killdeer, quickly identified by its loud, piercing "kill-dee, kill-dee" call as it flies. It can be found in all of the states and in almost every province of Canada.
One feature of God's remarkable care over plovers is the way He protects their eggs and young. Their nests are scooped out of the sand or gravel and usually hold four eggs. These eggs are spotted and so perfectly camouflaged that they are hard to distinguish from the pebbles around them. When the birds hatch, they are speckled with black and will "freeze" at the mother bird's command, making them well hidden. The parents are careful never to fly directly to or away from the nest. Instead, they first walk away so anything watching cannot easily tell where the nest is.
Let's take a closer look at the remarkable lesser golden plovers. They nest in northern Canada and Alaska from spring until fall. In August or September, they fly in great numbers to Labrador. From there they fly nonstop in V formation over four thousand miles to Brazil by way of Bermuda and the Caribbean Sea. In March, they return across the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi Valley, back to their northern breeding ground.
The Pacific golden plover is a foot-long bird with an even more amazing life. Nesting in northern Alaska and Siberia, it flies to Hawaii in the fall, then on to Malaysia, New Zealand and other Pacific islands.
The beginning of this journey to Hawaii requires a nonstop flight of over two thousand miles. The adult birds take off first, leaving the young ones to follow later. Doesn't it seem impossible for these young birds to do this since they have never made the journey before, and Hawaii is just a pinpoint in the middle of the ocean? How do they know where to go and how to get there? Once more, the answer is that God has given them instincts that never fail, generation after generation. He tells them when to migrate and sends them safely to their destination.
These birds obey the will of the Lord, their Creator, and are an example of how we should also obey Him. His Word, the Bible, has instructions for us at every age of our lives. If we walk in His way, He will always bless us.

That Strange Bird, the Hornbill: Part 1

"And God created...every living creature...and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good." Gen. 1:21
There are about 44 varieties of hornbills living in the jungles of Africa and Asia. This strange, colorful bird is the size of a goose with a large yellow or red saw-toothed, curved bill. On top of this bill is a reddish bony headpiece which looks like a helmet. Each variety of hornbill has its own special headpiece lying flat on top of the bill. One species, the rhino hornbill, has a growth pointing forward like the horn on a rhinoceros.
These unusual bills and headpieces result in the death of many hornbills since people kill them for these bony pieces. Many kinds of knickknacks are carved from them, including handles for knives and daggers, buckles and even small idols and tourist souvenirs. We cannot say that the hornbills are proud of their attractive bills, but we are reminded that the Bible says, "Woe to the crown of pride...whose glorious beauty is a fading flower....The Lord of hosts [shall] be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty" (Isa. 28:1,5). Pride and the beauty of everything on earth will fade and pass away, but the Lord and His Word will endure forever.
Hornbills have black and white feathers on their backs and orange feathers on their breasts, throats and heads. To support their heavy bodies they have strong legs with tough, claw-like toes on their feet for gripping the branches of trees.
These birds have loud calls that carry long distances through the jungles. The calls sound like a combination of a racing car, a human scream and crazy laughter. Their wings also produce loud booms as they fly slowly through the trees. Orangutans and other apes are attracted by these noises and will swing through the trees, following the birds. They seem to know that the hornbills like wild fruits and berries to eat, and they do too.
Strange as the hornbill may seem to us, it is part of God's creation, and He carefully watches over every one of them. We are told, "All things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist [continue to exist]" (Col. 1:16-17). Each person is also part of His creation, but, sad to say, all have sinned (disobeyed God), and God cannot accept us in our sins. We must each first come to the Lord Jesus to be cleansed from our sins. Then we are told, "If any man be in Christ [saved by faith in Him], he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). Have you come to the Lord Jesus for cleansing from your sins?

That Strange Bird, the Hornbill: Part 2

"And [Solomon] spake...of beasts and of fowl." 1 Kings 4:33
The hornbill's head with its big bill and helmet (which we talked about last week) looks far too heavy to be held upright. But actually, it is quite light since the bill and helmet have very lightweight bones. The bill is covered with a thin sheath, and the inside is filled with air cells.
In addition to its unusual head structures, the hornbill also has a strange way of building its nest. The female finds a hollow tree trunk with a hole in it. She stuffs the hole with sticks and other objects, filling it up until its depth is just right. Then she makes a nest, lining it with feathers which she plucks from herself. She and her mate plaster mud around the hole until it is just large enough for her to climb through. After she climbs inside they continue plastering the hole until only a slit remains which is large enough for her bill to get through.
Remaining in her "house," the female lays several eggs and incubates them. Her mate faithfully brings food to her, placing it into her bill which she sticks out through the slit. When the chicks hatch the mother stays with them for several weeks (the father feeding them all) until the nest is too crowded. Meanwhile, new feathers have grown back on the mother. She and her mate peck at the hardened mud plaster until the hole is large enough for her to climb out. However, the chicks are not yet ready to come out, so the hole is closed up again for a few more weeks, leaving a slit for the parents to feed them. The young birds eventually break out and fly away.
The building of the nest reminds us of the words of Jesus when He was here on earth. "The birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20). How good of the Lord of all creation to provide homes for the birds and other creatures while He Himself did not have a place to lay His head!
The hornbills provide everything for the care of their young. It is good to think of God's care and kindness to us too. "The living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein...did good...filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:15-17).
Have you ever thanked Him for all the good things you enjoy? Have you accepted that most wonderful of all gifts, His beloved Son as your Savior? It was the Lord Jesus Christ "who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world" (Gal. 1:4). If you have not done this, won't you accept Him as your own Savior now?

The Proud Lyrebird

"Though the Lord be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knoweth afar off." Psa. 138:6
The musical instrument called the lyre has two curved arms reaching up from the base and a series of strings stretched between them. When explorers in Australia first caught sight of a pheasant-sized bird with feathers spread out U-shaped just like a lyre, they promptly named it the lyrebird.
Actually, only the male bird has the beautiful feathers, and he displays them in winter and spring. He moves around in the forest busily scratching for worms and snails. He is not much of a flier, but he can run fast. When he runs, he holds his long tail straight out behind him so the brush will not damage it.
The lyrebird is a great imitator, not only of other birds, but it will quickly imitate the bark of a dog, the noise of a gasoline engine, the meow of a cat or most any other sound. It is more talented than a parrot in this way.
During winter, the lyrebird looks for a mate. He loudly sings some of the tunes he has copied from other birds. Finding a clear spot in the forest, he scratches up a mound of dirt and climbs up to display his sixteen beautiful tail feathers. He raises them in a lyre-like shape, waving and bending them forward over his head. They look like a delicate, beautiful fan.
He does a lively dance on the mound that may last an hour or more. If a female lyrebird does not show up, he moves on to another mound already prepared some distance away, and he repeats the whole act. This may go on for several days, until finally a female appears. He helps her build an oval-domed nest in the fork of a tree or in the undergrowth where she lays just one egg. Then he deserts her while she hatches out the lone chick and goes back to his mounds to look for another female. This continues well into spring.
The male lyrebird is really a proud creature, isn't he? The way he deserts his companions spoils our admiration of him. His actions remind us of Satan and even of some persons who make themselves attractive on the outside but are not attractive on the inside. But God is never deceived. The Bible tells us that "man [looks] on the outward appearance, but the Lord [looks] on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). How solemn to realize that the Lord "[searches] all hearts, and [understands] all the imaginations of the thoughts" (1 Chron. 28:9). We cannot hide from God; He knows all about us every moment of our lives.
How good it is to confess that we need Him to guide and direct our lives and to know "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). Have you done this?

The Ways of the Owl

"These are they of which ye shall not eat... the owl... the little owl, and the great owl." Deut. 14:12-16
Although owls, as unclean birds, were not to be eaten by the Israelites, they were a part of God's carefully chosen creation, and He has provided for them in remarkable ways.
The smallest of the two hundred species is the little elf owl, which lives in the cactus of lonely deserts. The great horned owl and the great gray owl, both standing two feet high or more, are the largest. The most common owl is the barn or screech owl. It is a dull-brown bird about fourteen inches tall, marked with feathered legs and stiff, tufted ears. Since it does not build a nest, the eggs are laid in a hole in the ground.
Another, the burrowing owl, makes its nest five to ten feet underground and sometimes takes over a burrow of ground squirrels or prairie dogs, or shares it with them. Other owl species live in hollow logs or holes in tree trunks.
Most of these interesting birds hunt at night, except for the snowy owl of the Arctic that finds its food in the daytime. The Creator has given owls large eyes so they can see in the dark. They can see only a narrow area ahead, but can quickly turn their heads almost completely around, actually seeing more than most other birds. Their eyes are ten times more sensitive to light than the human eye. If exposed to bright light, they have a protective membrane that will cover the eye, reducing the glare. They have also been given strong, grasping talons and sharp, hooked beaks to catch and hold their prey.
Most owls eat mice, rats, small birds, rabbits, squirrels, gophers and even snakes, skunks and scorpions. This makes them one of God's ways of keeping the populations of these creatures under control.
Their soft, downy feathers offer little resistance to the air when flying, so their flight is almost silent. Their keen hearing is helped by face feathers, curved in a way that they direct sounds to flaps of skin around their specially designed ears. This enables them to focus on the slightest sound and fly silently to it, no matter how dark the night.
In Psa. 102:6-7 we read, "I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop." This gives us a picture of the experience of the Lord Jesus Christ as He went through this world. He was rejected, except by a few who would accept Him as their Savior. Though He has now returned to heaven, many people still reject His love and mercy. Do not be a part of this Christ-rejecting group, but hear and accept His loving invitation: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).

Computer Birds

"Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of the birds is come, and the voice of the [turtledove] is heard in our land." Sol. 2:11-12
The ability of billions of birds to migrate to and from various parts of the world each spring and fall is truly amazing. If humans were to attempt these trips, we would need many kinds of instruments, charts and computers. But God has given these flying wonders the wisdom to stay on their courses perfectly.
Scientists are very interested in the abilities of these birds and would like to learn their secret. But man has not discovered the secret; it is the Creator's gift to the bird kingdom. Amazingly, some, like storks, hummingbirds, plovers and terns, fly accurately for thousands of miles over land and ocean.
Some scientists think that birds are guided by the sun, and they may be right. But the sun travels from east to west, and for the most part birds travel north and south. If guided by the sun, they would need some kind of sensor to tell them the location of the sun in the sky at any time of day. Others think the night fliers use the stars for direction. However, the stars’ positions change as the earth revolves. So if the stars guide them, the night fliers have certainly been given something better than man's global positioning systems to find their way. Still others think they follow landmarks, such as mountains, rivers and valleys. This might help those migrating over land; however, what about those flying over oceans?
None of these provide a real answer, since the migrators find their way just as well in total darkness, through foggy or cloudy skies, and often through bad storms. We must conclude that the Lord God who created and takes care of them is their source. He supplies this superb guidance and the amazing strength and endurance that takes them safely and accurately over these great distances.
It is wonderful to know the Lord as your Savior and learn that He will provide daily strength for you too. The Bible says, "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isa. 40:28-31).
(to be continued)
Computer Birds Part 2
"[Noah] sent forth a dove.... But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark." Gen. 8:8-9
Noah's dove had no difficulty finding her way back to the ark. This is a little example of the billions of birds that migrate over vast oceans and lands throughout the world each year. One, the blackpoll warbler, travels a 4000-mile journey between the forests of North America and Brazil. One part of this trip is an 86-hour, non-stop flight over water! The golden plover travels 15,000 miles or more each year, and the bobolink travels some 6000 miles between Canada and Argentina.
What makes them migrate? One reason is they need a place with long days and enough food to raise their young. Both of these are found in the North where trillions of insects hatch just as the birds arrive in spring. The Creator has arranged this, providing them with needed food and, at the same time, controlling the insects that otherwise would destroy the land. Then, aware that winter is coming, the migrators time their flights south to escape the cold of winter. Birds are the best forecasters on earth and can tell weather changes long before men can.
Young birds seldom fly with their parents. It is amazing how they can accurately fly to their destinations without help from their parents! Only God could give them this ability.
It is not only in the migration along their normal routes that their instincts are revealed. Experiments with birds removed from their normal surroundings and set free elsewhere have amazing results.
A number of shearwaters were taken in covered cages from the coast of Wales to both Italy and Switzerland. Although they are water birds and not used to flying over land, when released, these birds rose high in the air, crossed the Alps and flew straight back home. A cowbird from Illinois was taken to Colorado and released. A month later it was back home. This same bird was later taken to Quebec and promptly found its way back.
Eggs of many birds have been incubated hundreds of miles from their native lands. When the young birds are released at migrating times, they always fly to the home of their parents rather than with the birds with which they have been raised. There they join their true relatives in their migration route established for them by their Creator. These experiments confirm that birds have God-given abilities to find their way, even when taken to strange surroundings.
The love of God points a way for us too—the way to heaven. His Word, the Bible, says, "Broad is the way, that [leads] to destruction... [but] strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which [leads] unto life" (Matt. 7:13-14). The Lord Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Have you put your trust in Him as your sure way to heaven?

The Merry Rock Wren: Merry

"Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!" Psa. 113:5-6
In the dry foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the sweet song of the six-inch rock wren is often heard. Its gray colors blend in closely with its rocky home among the boulders, sandstone cliffs and rocky hills.
What an interesting home the rock wren has! Its small nest is made of twigs, grass and plant stems, lined with shredded bark, dry grass and pieces of fur. There is nothing unusual about the actual nest; it is the wall that is built beside it that is unusual. After the nest is built in a crevice under a big rock, the male and female gather small pebbles and rock chips to make a stone wall in front of the nest, leaving only a small entranceway. No doubt the Creator gave the wren this skill to help protect its nest from snakes, rodents and birds of prey, which would eat their eggs.
About six white eggs, speckled brown on one end, are laid twice a year. In only two weeks the chicks hatch out. The parents are attentive and protective, staying close by and bringing spiders, moths and other insects as food to the young chicks. Before they are big enough to fly, the parents lead them out on the rocks for exercise. If danger appears, they immediately obey their parents' signal to "freeze" or find a hiding place. Isn't it interesting to see how God has put such wisdom in the parents?
The rock wren has been given a long bill to reach food in cracks and under rocks. Its short legs have sharp-clawed toes, allowing it to cling upside down to overhanging rocks. Although it does drink water when it is available, it can get along without it, getting moisture from what it eats.
This little bird is another excellent example of how the Lord God, the Creator, has supplied everything His creatures need. The Bible reminds us: "Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the [needs] of every living thing" (Psa. 145:16).
The same One who watches over the little rock wren has His eye on you too. In a special way, His "delights [are] with the sons of men." He says, "Now therefore hearken unto Me, O ye children.... Blessed is the man that heareth Me.... For whoso findeth Me findeth life.... But he that sinneth against Me wrongeth his own soul" (Prov. 8:31-36). These are serious but wonderful words. The Lord God wants you to know Him, not only as the provider and preserver of your life, but as the One to whom you may go as a needy sinner. He wants you to accept Him as your own Savior and thank Him for taking the punishment for your sins. Have you done this?

The Comical Puffin

"Hast thou not heard, that...the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?" Isa. 40:28
The colorful bird called the puffin lives in Arctic waters of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It has a comical look because of its bright-orange, high, flattened bill with blue and red stripes. Its white, puffy face is topped with a black skullcap. Add to this a white body with a black collar and cape and stubby, orange legs and feet. Though it seems to be a strange-looking bird, it is well suited to its environment.
The puffin is an expert swimmer and diver and is skillful at catching seafood. Its beak can hold several fish, eels or shrimp crosswise while pursuing and catching others. No one understands how a puffin can manage this, but scientists think it holds the first catches with its tongue while opening its bill to catch others. Then the contents of its bill are brought to a rock where they are eaten.
Some colonies of puffins contain hundreds of thousands of birds. Sometimes they make their homes in burrows, but usually they build nests on cliff ledges where the female lays one white egg. The eggs are a remarkable example of the Creator's special care of their needs. Instead of being oval like chickens' or round like like some woodland birds', puffins' eggs are round on only one end and pointed on the other.
Why do you think the Lord God made their eggs such an odd shape? When He created the puffin He knew that their eggs would be laid on rocky ledges. A round or oval egg would easily roll off the ledge if left unattended even for a moment or two. However, a pointed egg just turns around in a small circle and can easily be returned to the nest.
It takes almost a month for the chick to hatch. While the chick remains in the nest it is fed a continual diet of fish. When the tired parents leave the fat chick after about six to eight weeks of care and constant feeding, the young bird eventually goes to the edge of the cliff and flies down to the water. There it feels comfortably at home, and soon it is diving for its own food. It becomes an active part of the colony and later migrates south with them, returning in the spring to the same rock on which it was born.
These birds live in a remote part of the world but are not forgotten by the One who created them. The Lord God once said, "Consider the ravens [and other birds]: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?" (Luke 12:24). He is making it plain that He thinks more highly of human beings than of the rest of His creatures. He has shown this by giving us a never-dying soul and a home in heaven for those who trust in Him.
Our acceptance for heaven is by acknowleging that we need to have our sins forgiven and by confessing that He is the only One who can save us. Have you done this?

The Dipper Bird

"The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works. All Thy works shall praise Thee, O Lord." Psa. 145:9-10
The water ouzel, or dipper bird, is an interesting bird about the size of a robin and has bluish-gray, waterproof feathers. It lives mostly in the Sierra Mountains of California, the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington, and the mountains of British Columbia. You might get a glimpse of one along a swiftly flowing stream with rapids and waterfalls. However, it will be well hidden and difficult to find.
The life of the dipper bird is spent near these mountain streams. It is a cheerful bird, full of happy sounds but with no distinctive song. It flies rapidly over its watery homeland, following the stream's course and never taking a shortcut between bends, as most birds do. A waterfall is its greatest delight, as it flies through the spray or darts behind it.
Of course, it cannot spend all its time this way. Like all birds it must keep busy finding food, which comes almost entirely from the bottom of the stream, usually in shallow areas, but sometimes in deeper water. It eats all kinds of water bugs and other insects and especially likes mosquito larvae and periwinkles. It catches these larvae by walking along the bottom of the stream with its body completely covered by water. Gripping the rock bottom with its strong feet and working its wings like oars, it can walk through strong currents safely.
Finished with underwater food gathering, it will suddenly pop out of the water, fly to a rock or log and burst into song again. It nods and curtsies, bobbing up and down as it sings. This is where it gets its name of dipper bird.
No canyon is too dark or isolated for this bird, just so there is a waterfall nearby. In springtime, the male and female together build their nest by a waterfall. The nest is made of moss, woven into an oven-like shape. It is usually placed on the ledge of a rock where spray from the water keeps it moist. Ferns grow up and surround it, concealing it from enemies.
Just as God watches over the lowly sparrow and not one falls to the ground without His knowing it (Matt. 10:29), so He watches over this cheerful dipper bird. He provides for all its needs and gives it the ability to carry on its unusual way of life.
And we are assured of His care over us too. In a more special way, our Savior has said to those who love Him, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper" (Heb. 13:5-6). Do you know Him as your Savior, and do you thank Him for His loving care, watching over you every moment of your life?

The Wise Old Stork

"The stork in the heaven [knows] her appointed times...but My people know not the judgment of the Lord." Jer. 8:7
The European white stork has black wing tips, a red bill and long, reddish-pink legs and feet. Storks have no real vocal cords, so they "talk" by clapping their bills together. Although this stork migrates every fall, a pair will return year after year to the same nest. The nests are huge, built mostly on chimney tops or roofs. Each year something is added to each nest, until they become as tall as a man and several feet wide. A pair of storks will stay together for life and are devoted to their young, feeding them great quantities of frogs, grasshoppers, mice, eels and reptiles.
Storks get along very well with humans and are protected wherever they live. Sometimes when they meet you on a street, you would think they were almost human as they stroll along, for they nod their heads like wise old men or tuck their beaks in their chests like absent-minded professors.
Before winter overtakes the storks, large migrations begin, following two southern routes. Those nesting in eastern Europe fly through Turkey, Palestine, over the Sea of Galilee, over Mt. Sinai, into East Africa and then down to South Africa. That is how they are known to the people of Bible lands, because some stop off in those lands to stay until spring. Those nesting in western Europe make their flight to the same destination, but by a different route. These fly over the Rock of Gibraltar, across the Sahara Desert and the Congo forests of Africa. They meet the eastern European storks somewhere along the Nile River and fly together to southern Africa.
These storks have an amazing characteristic: When it's time to begin these migratory flights, the young storks begin the seven-thousand-mile journey without waiting for their parents. Although they have never flown these routes before, they have no difficulty reaching their destinations. Can anyone deny that they receive this remarkable ability from their Creator? If they were not guided by Him, certainly they would wander off course and die, but He watches over them with utmost care.
As our opening Bible verse states, "the stork in the heaven [knows] her appointed times" and will not change it. The rest of the verse is sad when the Lord says, "But My people know not the judgment of the Lord." The people were not as wise as the birds and failed to follow the counsel of God.
How important for us all to "hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people...but let them not turn again to folly [sin]" (Psa. 85:8). Do you know the peace of hearing His voice and applying it to your own heart?

The Beautiful Oriole

"All the earth shall worship Thee, and shall sing unto Thee; they shall sing to Thy name." Psa. 66:4
The lovely oriole has always been a favorite bird of Europeans, with its musical flute-like songs. When Europeans migrated to North America, they were happy to find orioles here too. Altogether there are nine native oriole species living throughout the United States and southern Canada, with some as far north as Nova Scotia. Most migrate to the Caribbean Sea area or Colombia for the winter.
East of the Rocky Mountains, the Baltimore oriole is the most common species. In the West, it is the Bullock's oriole, and in the South it is the orchard oriole. All of these robin-sized birds are examples of the wonders of God's creation. The males have a beautiful coloring of black and orange or deep yellow, but the females are not as brightly colored. This is a wise plan of the Creator, because it helps them to remain hidden when hatching their eggs.
This insect eater is interesting not only because of its beauty and song, but also because of its unusual nest. The nest is usually built as a deep pouch hanging from a fork of a tree. A favorite building material is orange milkweed, which is stripped into long fibers. The female weaves these strips into a basket nest with her beak. Long strands of grass may also be used, or fibers and leaves from trees or desert plants. Whatever the material, their complicated, hanging nest is made by intricate stitching, tying of loops and knots, and perfect shuttle-like weaving. A soft lining such as wool, fine grass or even horsehairs is added. The nest is open at the top but hidden underneath large leaves or branches, concealing it from enemies. These happy birds seem to enjoy the swinging motion of their suspended nests.
Orioles don’t need lessons on how to build such strong, wonderful homes. The Lord God has given them this ability to make a nest just like their ancestors made hundreds of years ago. The One who delights in all His creation gave the oriole this unusual skill.
Few birds sing as much as the oriole. The loud musical voices of various species differ from each other and are always pleasant. They seem to be saying that this bird is happy and content with the way God has provided for it. When we think of all that He has done for us, shouldn't we be happy too? Yes, and we should also be thankful, as the Bible verse tells us: “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift" (2 Cor. 9:15).
The "unspeakable gift" was the giving of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of all who will accept Him as their very own. Have you done this, and can you join in the song of our opening verse?

The Wandering Albatross

"Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Thy glory be above all the earth." Psa. 57:5
Over the centuries, sailors traveling on the southern oceans have been surprised to find a lone albatross here or there. Sometimes they are hundreds or even thousands of miles from land. Many have thought these large birds must have been blown out to sea by storms and couldn't find their way back, but this is not the case.
From the beginning God has given these birds a remarkable sense of direction. Although they may seem to wander aimlessly, apparently they are never lost. They just seem to enjoy being out over the wide ocean expanses. God has given them long, strong, pointed wings with a spread of eleven feet. This allows them to glide great distances for long periods of time. They spend many months away from land, coming to land only to breed. It is assumed they sleep while gliding. When hungry, they drop down to catch a fish; when thirsty, they drink seawater.
An interesting project during the Pacific War shows their sense of direction and ability to fly great distances. The U.S. military established a huge air base at Midway Island in the Pacific, but immediately found this was a favorite area for hundreds of albatrosses that then interfered with air traffic. The decision was made to capture and remove them. In cages, some were taken to the Philippines, over 4000 miles away; some to Whidbey Island in Washington State, more than 3000 miles away; and some in other directions. All were banded and released so they could be identified if seen again.
And they were seen again, as all eventually returned! It was estimated they flew about three hundred miles per day in returning to Midway. How did they find their way over such distances?
While flying over remote areas of the ocean, aircraft navigators require sensitive instruments, along with radio signals, to be sure to stay on course and not get hopelessly lost. How can the albatross cover these many miles soaring so carefree, first in one direction, then in another, and never get lost? The answer is that God has put all this direction-finding ability into its brain. How helpless man looks with all his instruments, compared with the instincts and abilities given to these birds by the Creator.
God has given mankind an intelligence far above other created creatures, along with fresh blessings every day. Yet how many people never give Him a thought, and some intentionally turn away from Him.
God is so "longsuffering...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). How deeply He loves us: "He... sent His Son to be the propitiation [offering] for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Do you have the joy of being a child of His through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

The Strange Kiwi

"But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him....All flesh is not the same flesh." 1 Cor. 15:38-39
A strange bird called the kiwi is found only in New Zealand. Since it hides in its burrow until late evening or night, many people living there have never seen one. Its name comes from its call, "kee wee," that is only heard as it moves about in the darkness.
This is the smallest of all birds that cannot fly, while the ostrich is the largest. Although it is a true bird, it looks something like an animal without a tail and even has cat-like whiskers. It is about the size of a chicken and is covered with pretty, soft, gray and brown feathers. It has strong legs and feet and can run rapidly through the undergrowth. It moves silently except for a little hissing noise it makes when hunting or its occasional piercing "kee wee, kee wee" cry.
The Creator did not forget to give the kiwi the ability to fly. Instead, as mentioned in the opening verse, He took pleasure in forming it just the way it is and gave it special ability to live on the ground. Since worms and underground insects are its main food, it has been given an unusually long, strong bill to dig with. It hunts mostly in moist or swampy ground where the digging is easiest. Every other bird has nostrils at the base of its bill, but the kiwi's nostrils are out on the end of its bill. What do you think is the reason for this? Those who have studied this bird believe it smells the food it is searching for through these openings on its bill. Its small eyes do not see much in the dark, but its keen sense of smell enables it to find all its food, including snails, berries and certain other vegetation.
If the kiwi were capable of thinking and talking, it would tell us, "No, God did not leave out any necessary thing. He has given me all I need to thrive and prosper." And it does prosper. Burrowing under the roots of a tree, a pair builds a nest and lines it with leaves and grass. The female usually lays just one very large, white egg, which weighs one-fourth as much as the kiwi itself! The kiwi's egg is the largest in proportion to its size of any bird on earth.
After the female lays her egg, the male incubates it. For over two months he stays on the nest, only eating and drinking on quick trips outside, while waiting for the chick to hatch. The hatched chick is covered with soft, dark fuzz called "down." After only a few days the chick wanders off to make its own way, and the parents seem to forget about it.
God watches over these strange birds, just as He does over all His creatures. We are also part of His wonderful creation, but unlike the birds and animals, we have a responsibility to Him as to what we do with our lives. He gives us good instructions. Here are several: "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" (Eccl. 12:1); "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:5-6). Are you doing these things?

The Clever Road Runner

"I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine." Psa. 50:11
The road runner is a strange North American bird full of comical manners and mischief. Belonging to the cuckoo family, it is nearly two feet long and has long legs with two toes in front and two in back. It blends into the desert countryside in its drab white and olive feathers. Year after year it lives in the same nest made of sticks and often lined with snake skins.
When chased, the male allows its pursuer almost to catch it, then leaps into the brush and disappears. If an intruder approaches the nest, the female remains quietly on her nest until the intruder is almost upon her before flying away. If she has chicks, she hops away from the nest and pretends to have a broken leg, limping along just beyond reach of her enemy. This leads the intruder away from her chicks a safe distance where finally she flies off. How did she learn to do this? The Creator gave her this instinct when He placed the first road runner on the earth.
This swift-footed bird prefers to walk, but will fly occasionally. It is interesting to watch one strutting through the desert with its neck and head stretched out, stopping often with its tail feathers and bristly topknot bobbing up and down. Its black eyes are always alert for its next meal—insect, mouse, lizard, snail or young snake—which it catches in its long beak.
This bird's life seems to be full of fun. If a horse and rider appear, it is quite ready to run in front of them, challenging them to a race. After tiring of the game, it disappears off the side of the road.
It frightens cats by rushing toward them with its wings spread, head stretched out and beak open, making odd noises. Most cats will make a quick getaway, but some cats will hold their ground and even swipe at the bird with their paws.
The road runner is not afraid of rattlesnakes. It will circle the snake and tease it to strike. When the snake strikes, the road runner jumps into the air or hops aside where the snake cannot reach it. The moment the snake's body is straightened out the bird quickly pecks it with its sharp beak. The angry snake coils and strikes again and again, but always with the same result. Finally, tired out, the snake cannot continue the fight, and the bird finishes it off.
God has given special abilities to each of His creatures, and He takes pleasure in caring for them. He cares for you too, but more than that, He loves you and invites you to be His child. The Bible explains how: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). Are you part of His happy family?

The Amazing Ways of Animals: Chapter 4

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle... and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And Go made the beast of the earth after his kind... and God saw that it was Good." Gen. 1:24,25

The Polar Bear

"Who is like unto the Lord our God, who [dwells] on high, who [humbles] Himself to behold the things... in the earth!" Psa. 113:5-6
The white, cold, lonely world of the Arctic is the polar bear's home. The Lord God shelters the polar bear from the cold with a thick layer of fat underneath long, shaggy fur. Its fur has insulating air spaces between the hairs. This impressive animal is about five feet high at its shoulders, seven feet or more long, and may weigh half a ton. It is extremely strong and can pull a 500-pound seal out of the water with just one paw.
God has prepared it well for its surroundings. When the sun shines on snow and ice, Eskimos have to take special care to avoid painful snow-blindness. But the polar bear has been given three eyelids and a special membrane to protect its eyes. Then too, this big fellow easily crosses ice floes and travels over ice and snow with little effort. It would be difficult to walk on such slippery surfaces if the bear were not equipped with a covering of tough hair on the bottom of its feet that gives it a good grip. God has given it partially webbed feet and specially jointed legs that help make it a very good swimmer.
While its sight and hearing are poor, the polar bear’s sense of smell is keen and will alert it to prey as much as twenty miles away. It lives in an icy den where the female gives birth late in winter to two or three cubs, which are about the size of chipmunks. Two months after they are born, she takes them out of the den and begins their two-year training.
Polar bears eat mostly seals. The bear lies on the thick ice, waiting for a seal to pop up at its breathing hole. Sometimes the bear will quietly swim to the edge of the ice where a seal is sunning and catch it. Besides seals, polar bears eat salmon, foxes, birds and occasionally a reindeer. Trappers have to keep a wary eye open when one is around, since they will kill sled dogs and steal animals from traps.
It seems cruel that the polar bear must kill so ruthlessly. It was not like this in the beginning. Sin brought this change into the world. However, there is a time coming when "the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox" (Isa. 11:7).
But before that peaceful time comes, God is going to bring punishment on this sinful world and all those who have refused the gift of salvation He is offering. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior who died to bear that punishment in your place, if you will only accept His invitation to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). Will you accept His invitation today?

The World's Strangest Animal

"Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." Acts 15:18
The 18-inch duck-billed platypus, which is found in Australia and Tasmania, looks like a mix of several animals and birds. Although it has a bill like a duck, fur like a beaver, short legs like a lizard, claws like a muskrat, cheek pouches like a monkey and lays eggs like a turtle, it is a true mammal. No wonder people who think it evolved can't figure out what it evolved from.
However, the Bible record assures us this is another of God's creatures, adapted by Him to its way of life. Its duck-like bill makes it possible to get food from the muddy bottom of a stream or pond. Its beaver-like fur is waterproof and keeps it warm in and out of water. The short legs help it to easily move along its long tunnel to its nest. It is able to store food in its cheek pouches while continuing its hunting. Its webbed feet make it an excellent swimmer. In addition to all these features, the male's hind legs are equipped with poisonous spurs for protection from enemies. When the webs of its front feet are pulled back, claws are exposed.
It is hard to get a look at this little fellow because it stays in its tunnel during the day and hunts mostly at night. Even though no ears can be seen (just ear slits), its hearing is unusually good, as are its sense of smell and touch.
Before the female lays her eggs, she increases the length of the tunnel to about 20 feet with a hidden opening on land. She brings in leaves and grass to make an underground nest where she lays from one to three eggs. She curls her body around the eggs for a week to ten days, until the one-inch-long, hairless babies hatch. Using her tail to hold them close to her body, she nurses the babies. She keeps them hidden in the nest until they are several months old and nearly full-grown.
We may wonder why God made such a distinctly strange animal. We can be sure He had a definite purpose and that He gives the platypus the same care that is given to all His creation.
Have you stopped to think that God made man with a special purpose in mind? He said of those called by His name, "I have created him for My glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him" (Isa. 43:7). This assurance is given to all who have put their faith in the Savior's work at Calvary: "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1:9). Can you apply this promise to yourself?

The Durable Coyote

"He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry." Psa. 147:9
Coyotes are often mistaken for wolves or large dogs. Although they weigh only about thirty pounds, their long, thick, gray fur makes them look larger. At times they are noisy, and if you hear a pack of them howling on a moonlit night, it is something you will always remember.
Coyotes live throughout Mexico, the United States and southern Canada. Some make their homes on the prairies where there is a good supply of gophers, field mice, ground squirrels, small birds and insects. But coyotes are also plentiful in deserts, seashores, forested hills and even close to cities. Besides being meat eaters, they eat berries and fruits.
The Creator has made coyotes very clever. Trappers are amazed at their ability to steal bait from traps without getting caught in them. They will also quietly watch other animals or large birds hunting...then steal the food from them. When chasing rabbits, they work cleverly in teams. One chases a rabbit until it tires, then another takes over, and sometimes a third helps out. The rabbit can outrun them, but becomes exhausted and is finally captured.
Unfortunately, coyotes do kill sheep and chickens and are hunted and poisoned for this reason. But it has been noted that when no coyotes are around, packrats, mice, gophers and other rodents multiply and do serious damage to crops and other property. As a result, it has been decided that coyotes do more good than harm, and they are no longer completely killed off.
A pair of coyotes is usually loyal to each other for a lifetime. Once a year they raise from five or six to as many as fifteen pups. These are hidden in a den on a hillside, under a big rock, or underneath a stump. The pups are playful but trained to obey their parents instantly. They are taught to stay close to the den under their parents' watchful care until they are given hunting lessons when about two months old.
These interesting animals usually hunt at night and hide in daylight in places where they are almost impossible to find. They often watch campers and hikers without their being aware of it. Normally coyotes do not bother people and try to avoid them.
Many of God's creatures live by their superior strength or swiftness, but He has enabled this animal to survive and prosper by giving it a sharp intellect and cleverness. Since He cares for the coyote this much, the Bible assures us He cares for you even more: "Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Also in Jer. 31:3 the Lord tells us, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee."
Have you accepted the Savior's love and care?

The Mischievous Raccoon

"God Himself... formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited." Isa. 45:18
In the fading evening light, a family of raccoons comes cautiously out of the woods. Their masked faces make them look like little burglars, which they often are. Tonight they head for a tree loaded with ripe plums. The kits remain on the ground while the parents climb up and begin shaking branches, causing a shower of plums to fall. Then the whole family enjoys the dinner.
This fruit dinner is a real treat. Raccoons eat mostly frogs, crayfish, turtle eggs and clams taken out of shallow waters. Birds' eggs are also a favorite, especially chicken eggs. Sweet corn is another special treat. Raccoons stripping ears from the stalks have ruined many cornfields.
Although raccoons weigh only about twenty-five pounds, dogs are often surprised at a raccoon’s fighting ability. It will not hesitate to attack a dog two or three times its own size. When being chased by a dog, it is clever at escaping. It will wade in water, run along fence tops, climb trees, backtrack and leap down a hillside, all to break the scent trail the dog is following. Occasionally a raccoon may let a dog chase it into a lake. Then it will grab the dog by its neck and force its head under water until the dog drowns.
In spite of its sometimes nasty nature, a raccoon is a pretty animal. It has a fox-like face with a black mask around jet-black eyes, erect ears, a black, button nose with whiskers, and a bushy, ringed tail. It is also very smart and soon discovers how to open latches on chicken coops, pry off garbage can lids, unscrew bottle caps, and even open refrigerators if given the chance.
This animal is another of the wonders of God's creation. He has given it many life-sustaining instincts and also an intelligence that allows it to learn things necessary for its survival. It is found both in the woods of the United States and Canada and in the deserts of Mexico and South America. Its life reminds us of the verse in the Bible: "The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works.... The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their [food] in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing" (Psa. 145:9,15-16).
We think of these provisions of the Creator in connection with every creature, but it is also good to remember this prayer that should be in the heart of every boy and girl: "Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.... O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psa. 90:12,14).

The Hedgehog

"I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm." Jer. 27:5
Although the hedgehog is well-known in many parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, it is not native to North America. This peculiar little animal is less than a foot long and looks somewhat like a porcupine.
As it is one of the weaker animals that would be hunted and killed by larger animals, God has given the hedgehog a very effective defense against its enemies. From its neck to its short, stubby tail, it is covered along its back and sides with sharp, stiff spines, sticking out in every direction. When in danger, the hedgehog tucks its head into its chest and rolls itself into a spiny ball and is safe from its enemies. If it hadn't done this right the very first time, it would have been quickly killed. God gave it that protective knowledge when it was born.
Although this animal sometimes lives in harsh surroundings, it knows how to make a comfortable nest of woven moss, grass and leaves that is waterproof even in heavy rains. Sometimes it will burrow into a rabbit's runway and make its home there or burrow under the roots of a tree where it is safe with a good strong roof over it. It has sharp claws on powerful front feet which enable it to dig quickly, not only in making its home, but also in finding grubs, slugs, worms and insects that make up part of its diet.
The hedgehog is helpful to man in at least one way—it is a natural enemy of snakes, especially poisonous ones. The hedgehog quickly seizes the snake by its tail and then curls up into its spiny-ball defense with the snake's tail in its mouth. The angry snake strikes against the prickly spines again and again, until it almost hacks itself to pieces. The hedgehog then finishes it off and makes a meal of the snake.
Do you think the hedgehog gave itself such a protective armor or taught itself how to catch snakes without being harmed? No, God, who cares for all His creatures, provided it with its unusual survival features. "In whose hand [the hand of God] is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:10).
This verse reminds us that, while God cares for every creature, He considers mankind separate from all others. He does, indeed, care for such an unusual little animal as the hedgehog, but it is important to realize He has a special interest in every human being and wants each one, through faith in Christ, to be His child. He tells us: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. 31:3).

The Pronghorn Antelope

"Turn not from it [God 's Word] to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest." Josh. 1:7.
The pronghorn antelope, with its pretty horns, is found only in the western United States and Mexico. It is the size of a small deer, buff-colored, except for white patches on its face and stomach and in back. This coloring allows it to blend in with the prairie colors, so it is hidden from its enemies.
A mother (doe) will use her sharp hoofs to beat off a coyote threatening her young, but otherwise the pronghorn has no real means of defense. However, God has given it strong muscles, enabling it to run 40 miles an hour or more. In fact, the Creator has given it many special features.
Its eyes, which are as large as a horse's, are far back on the side of its head, which gives it a great circle of sharp vision. When it sees something threatening it raises up the white patch around its tail. This is a warning signal to its companions, and they all run away. The Creator gave them the instinct to have one of their group always stand watch. Even when they lie down they face in different directions, so a coyote, bobcat or dog cannot take them by surprise. Their soft hair contains a great number of air cells, insulating their bodies from the cold. In hot weather special skin muscles make their hair "stand up," so the circulation of air can cool their bodies. All of these unusual provisions remind us of the wonders of God's creation in the great variety of things He has placed on the earth.
Twins, or sometimes just one (called kids), are born in the springtime. Their eyes are already open, and they are able to stand on their little legs right away. Prowling animals cannot easily find them, because they give off no scent at this time. At ten months they are fully grown, and by the end of a year they join the parents as the fastest long-distance runners in America.
What gets the pronghorn into trouble is its curiosity about things it cannot identify. For instance, hunters will tie a piece of cloth to a stick and wave it in the air while remaining hidden. The animal comes toward it to see what it's all about, and the hunter shoots it. This is just like the person who knows that the Bible teaches the way "which leadeth unto life" (Matt. 7:14), but who is tempted to investigate the things Satan and the world offer. Satan is always ready to deceive all who will be attracted by these temptations, leading them into tragedy and sorrow.
The Bible says: "Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." Jer. 6:16. As the opening verse advises, do not be like the foolish pronghorn, getting into trouble by leaving the right path. The Lord will give you the strength to stand firm and show you the right way. His invitation is: "Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee." Psa. 50:15.

The Kangaroo Rat

"The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works." Psa. 145:9.
There are sixteen known species of this funny little animal in the western United States and Canada, in addition to several kangaroo mice, which are its cousins. They are fun to watch, particularly if you could see them playing in the moonlight. They nest and live in burrows under trees or fallen logs, but in the desert they make their homes in the sand.
Its name describes it well, since it looks very much like a miniature kangaroo and hops about in much the same way, resting on its tail from time to time. It is one of God's creatures which is active at night and is seldom seen in daylight. But this is not without danger since snakes, coyotes, foxes and other animals that are also active at night find it a tasty meal whenever they catch it.
However, God has given it an unusual defense against such enemies. With long and powerful hind legs it' makes long leaps, gliding through the air. Its tail, which is extra long with a powderpuff of hair on the end, acts as a rudder in these leaps. By twisting it one way or the other it can change its direction in mid-air. This makes it difficult to catch for those animals who are chasing it.
An unusual feature of this long-legged rodent is that it never drinks water, even though it lives in such hot places as Death Valley. Yet its blood has the same proportion of water that is found in other animals. Several things account for this. Being active only at night keeps it from losing moisture by evaporation in the sun's heat. Also, it never sweats or pants, which aids in conserving moisture.
But the real answer is that it actually manufactures water for itself through a body chemistry peculiar to it alone. Water, as we know, is composed of hydrogen and oxygen. Starch from the seeds it eats contains a supply of hydrogen and the air it breathes is rich in oxygen. Through a complex process God has given it, the chemical plant inside its body puts these together to make water.
The kangaroo rat, made by its Creator, is also cared for by Him even though it is active only at night. The Bible tells us, "Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee." Psa. 139:12.
This is a serious thought for us, too. Hagar proclaimed "Thou God seest me," (Gen. 16:13) and David prayed to God saying, "my sins are not hid from Thee." (Psa. 69:5). But when walking in obedience he proved the Lord's lovingkindness and then could say, "The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. 0 Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee." (Psa. 84:11,12). Is your trust in God, too?

The Anteater

"The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof." Psa. 50:1
The anteater, a very unusual animal, lives in the damp, tropical forests of Mexico and Central and South America. There are a number of species, ranging in size from just seven inches long to the giant anteater which can grow to six feet long. You might be frightened if you happened on one of these in the wild, with its tube-shaped head, coarse gray hair striped with white, and long bushy tail. Actually, they do no harm unless they are attacked. Anteaters live in burrows, in hollow logs or sometimes in trees. They are mostly active at night or at dusk. Some live for 25 to 30 years.
This animal has been designed by the Lord God to serve a very special purpose. God has given it features that look unusual to us, but they are exactly right for what it was designed to do. As its name indicates, the anteater searches for and eats large numbers of ants and termites, serving a useful purpose by controlling the populations of these insects.
The anteater's head with its tiny ears and long, tapered snout are its most outstanding features. It has no teeth, but that long snout holds a foot-long, sticky tongue that whips out with lightning speed and reaches deep into the winding tunnels of ant nests for its dinner. It also uses its tongue to lick up any ants on the surface of the ground.
Equipped with strong legs and sharp claws, the anteater defends itself well, and most animals know better than to attack it. However, the strong, front claws are used primarily for pping open ant and termite nests where it soon wipes out the colony. Strong leg muscles also help it to roll over rocks where ants hide.
The anteater is not aware of it, but it depends upon God to direct it to its food. "The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat in due season" (Psa. 145:15). Are you aware that this is also true of you? "In [God's] hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:10).
How important it is to remember our dependence upon God. He not only has provided the way of salvation through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, but He also prepares the hearts and souls of those who will trust in Him. Can you say, "We are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life" (1 John 5:20)?

The Mighty Elephant: Part 1

"Behold now [the elephant], which I made ... . He [eats] grass as an ox.... His bones are like bars of iron.... The shady trees cover him.... He [drinks] up a river.... His nose [pierces] through snares." Job 40:15-24
Except for whales, African elephants are the largest creatures on earth. They may weigh five or six tons.
When a baby elephant is born, the excited herd groups around the mother to protect her, and one of the females becomes an "auntie" to help with the baby. The 250-pound baby cannot walk immediately after it is born. It has to be helped to its feet over and over again, until it can stand alone. It grows to full size in about twenty years and may live to be sixty years old or more.
The elephant is a friendly and curious animal. It eats leaves, grass, roots, water plants, and other vegetation. Sometimes it will shake a fruit tree and eat the fruit that falls to the ground. Each day an adult eats at least four hundred pounds of food and drinks fifty gallons of water. The Lord God placed them where there is plenty of food for them to eat.
The elephant’s ivory tusks are often several feet long and may weigh two hundred pounds or more. God compensated for the weight of the tusks by lightening the head bones with numerous air pockets. The tusks can push heavy objects out of the way, dig for roots and even become weapons when the elephant is angry.
An elephant's trunk is an amazing structure. It has 2500 muscles and is actually a stretched-out nose and lip. With it the elephant can pluck a single blade of grass, uproot a large tree, and pick up water, dust or mud to spray on itself when it is hot or bothered by insects. The trunk is also used as a trumpet to call its companions. When needed, it becomes a weapon and sometimes is used for spanking a baby.
When the elephant is angry, its ears stand out threateningly, but the Creator has also given them a more practical use. Perspiring like most other animals does not cool an elephant. Instead, it cools itself by waving these big ears back and forth. An entire herd doing this is an impressive sight.
The elephant not only follows its God-given instincts, but it is also very intelligent. However, no matter how smart these and other creatures are, it is only man to whom God has given a never-dying soul: "[Man's] spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Eccl. 12:7). A person will either go to heaven or hell, depending on what that person's decision is concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tell us, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36).
Which group are you in?

The Mighty Elephant: Part 2

"Behold now [the elephant], which I made ... . He [eats] grass as an ox.... His bones are like bars of iron.... The shady trees cover him.... He [drinks] up a river.... His nose [pierces] through snares." Job 40:15-24
Except for whales, African elephants are the largest creatures on earth. They may weigh five or six tons.
When a baby elephant is born, the excited herd groups around the mother to protect her, and one of the females becomes an "auntie" to help with the baby. The 250-pound baby cannot walk immediately after it is born. It has to be helped to its feet over and over again, until it can stand alone. It grows to full size in about twenty years and may live to be sixty years old or more.
The elephant is a friendly and curious animal. It eats leaves, grass, roots, water plants, and other vegetation. Sometimes it will shake a fruit tree and eat the fruit that falls to the ground. Each day an adult eats at least four hundred pounds of food and drinks fifty gallons of water. The Lord God placed them where there is plenty of food for them to eat.
The elephant’s ivory tusks are often several feet long and may weigh two hundred pounds or more. God compensated for the weight of the tusks by lightening the head bones with numerous air pockets. The tusks can push heavy objects out of the way, dig for roots and even become weapons when the elephant is angry.
An elephant's trunk is an amazing structure. It has 2500 muscles and is actually a stretched-out nose and lip. With it the elephant can pluck a single blade of grass, uproot a large tree, and pick up water, dust or mud to spray on itself when it is hot or bothered by insects. The trunk is also used as a trumpet to call its companions. When needed, it becomes a weapon and sometimes is used for spanking a baby.
When the elephant is angry, its ears stand out threateningly, but the Creator has also given them a more practical use. Perspiring like most other animals does not cool an elephant. Instead, it cools itself by waving these big ears back and forth. An entire herd doing this is an impressive sight.
The elephant not only follows its God-given instincts, but it is also very intelligent. However, no matter how smart these and other creatures are, it is only man to whom God has given a never-dying soul: "[Man's] spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Eccl. 12:7). A person will either go to heaven or hell, depending on what that person's decision is concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tell us, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36).
Which group are you in?

The Potto

"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?" Jer. 32:27.
In the forested areas of Nigeria the potto, also known as the bush baby or bush bear, shares its surroundings with other little animals that are similar to it. The potto is a small animal, some species having just half a tail. It also has a sharp, pointed nose and small ears that are shaped like a human's. It seems to be pleased with its furry coat, because every night the coat is carefully licked clean and combed with its teeth.
God has created the potto to make it possible to follow its peculiar way of life. It has special limbs (arms and legs) which allow it to hang upside down from branches most of the time looking for leaves, fruit and insects to eat. To give it strength to move this way under the limbs of trees, the Creator has given it strong muscles. It uses these muscles even when sleeping, since it spends the night in the same upside-down position, clinging to the tree so tightly that no one could pry it loose. In fact, even death will not cause it to let go.
To help it live this unusual lifestyle it was created with its thumbs and big toes heading in opposite directions from its other fingers and toes. Its wrists and ankle joints are also turned so that its feet and hands are at right angles to its legs and arms.
But the most amazing thing about the potto is its hip joint. The connection of the thigh bone to the hip has an unusual swivel "ball and cup" arrangement. This allows either the lower or upper part of its body to completely turn around while the rest of its body remains stationary. When the potto wants to change direction while hanging from a limb, it remains upside down holding tightly with its hind feet. Then it tucks its head in and crawls over its chest and stomach and out through the hind legs, with its head pointing to the ground. Next, it reaches over its head with its forepaws, firmly grasping the branch. Then, releasing one hind leg at a time, the rest of its body turns over so it resumes a full upside-down position, now headed in the opposite direction. Isn't this an amazing performance?
Throughout God's creation there are vast numbers of unusual animals with peculiar habits adding greatly to the wonders of His creation. The Bible tells us that "The Lord bath made all things for Himself...." Prov. 16:4. It was His joy to make so many different creatures, and He watches over each one carefully.
This reminds us that He has also made us and wants each of us to know Him, not only as our Creator, but also as our Lord and Savior and to be obedient to His Word, too. To do this we are called upon to control and direct "every thought to the obedience of Christ." 2 Cor. 10:5. Are you doing this?

The Playful Prairie Dog

"God that made the world and all things therein...giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." Acts 17:24-25
The prairie dog lives in the western part of North America, from Canada to Mexico. It is not actually a dog, but is a rodent in the ground-squirrel family. The dog part of its name comes from its shrill warning bark that sounds like a dog's bark. It is a plump little animal, about a foot long with coarse grayish-brown fur. It has teeth like a beaver's to help it gather grass, its chief food.
Early pioneers found millions of prairie dogs in the western states. But their population has been greatly reduced since they were considered a serious pest. Farmers found much damage to their alfalfa and grain crops since prairie dogs ate not only the plants but the roots as well. Early cattlemen did not like prairie dogs because of their burrows. A running horse or cow that stepped into an open burrow often broke a leg. But their burrows were a great benefit, allowing moisture to penetrate the soil. This prevented floods and water runoff that would otherwise wash topsoil away. It was all part of God's design in providing balance in the things of creation.
Prairie dogs are sociable animals and live in colonies. They dig their homes by tunneling straight down for 12 feet or more. At the bottom they dig out several rooms—a sleeping room, a storage room and other rooms. An emergency exit is always provided, with another tunnel slanting upward to within a few inches of the surface. This is their escape route. If an enemy gets into their home, they scamper up this tunnel and quickly dig through the remaining soil and get away.
The entrance to each burrow is topped with a mound of dirt to keep water out. Prairie dogs love to sit upright on these mounds, yipping back and forth to their neighbors. At times they play together and also like to be groomed by one another. When outside of the burrow, one is always the "watchdog," and when he sees anything alarming he gives several sharp barks. All of the others immediately dash to their burrows and disappear—all except the male of each family. He sits with his head out so he can see what's going on and barks continuously. When the whole colony is barking like this, it makes quite a racket.
In the northern prairies, these animals hibernate after fattening up during the fall, but in the south they remain active year round. Pups are born in the spring, and in about a month are the size of chipmunks and are full-grown by the end of summer.
The burrows and tunnels of prairie dogs are strongholds (safe places) for them. There is a better stronghold provided by God for those who accept His Son as their Savior. The Bible tells us "the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him" (Nah. 1:7). Is He your stronghold?

The Bad-Tempered Camel

"The multitude of camels...[and] the dromedaries...shall come....[Their riders] shall show forth the praises of the Lord." Isa. 60:6
A camel is not a pretty animal, nor is it known for its good behavior. It is one of the most awkward of all domestic animals and among the most difficult to manage. It has several bad habits, such as biting people or animals and spitting on strangers. Still, this animal is very useful to desert dwellers where it is known as "the ship of the desert."
The Arabian camel, sometimes called a dromedary, has only one hump, but the Bactrian species has two. These humps serve a very useful purpose. When the animal is well fed, the humps store fat and stand erect and firm. As it travels across the desert without food, the camel can absorb the nourishment stored in these humps for several days. Then the humps shrink and become flabby, sometimes falling to one side. But when the camel feeds again, the humps resume their proper shape.
Camels can go without water for days or even months, depending upon the time of year. They need less water in cooler months, but will drink five gallons a day in hot weather. They also get some moisture from their food.
There are so many ways the Lord has made special provisions for this large animal. For instance, each foot has two, wide, smooth, hard pads so it can walk easily on hot sand. At rest periods it folds its front legs, dropping its forepart to the sand. Then it folds its long hind legs, and the whole body drops down. Its knees and chest, which would be painfully scraped by the sand in the process, have been given thick, hard pads for protection.
During sandstorms, men cover their faces with cloths to survive, but a camel needs no special care. Its eyes are protected by an extra lid, heavy eyebrows and long lashes, while its large nostrils automatically close to narrow slits to keep the sand out.
The special needs of this peculiar animal were all provided for from the very beginning by an all-wise Creator. Without this care they would never have survived in the harsh deserts.
As we think about how the camel's special needs have been taken care of, it is a reminder that God has made a promise to those who love Him. To those who trust in His Son, the Lord Jesus, He has promised to "supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). This assures us that there is no limit to what He can do for every boy and girl.
He delights in all His creatures, but to mankind He has made special provisions, not only for this world, but for the world to come. He has given the promise of eternal life in heaven to all who know His Son as Lord and Savior.
Have you accepted this wonderful gift? Have you ever thanked Him for it?

The Well-Protected Armadillo

"But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them." Psa. 5:11
In God's creation no two creatures are ever exactly alike, and they all follow the original pattern God gave them. Each species has been provided with distinctive features best suited for its manner of life. The armadillo is an outstanding example because it is so different from all other animals. Its name comes from a South American Indian word meaning "armor." This armor covers the armadillo from the tip of its pointed snout to the end of its long tail, including its short legs and feet. Flexible and tough, this armor crosses the back of the armadillo in bands connected by bony rings. The parts over its shoulders and head, lower back and tail, are separate pieces. Though it looks like it is ready for battle, it is actually a peaceful animal.
The underpart of its body is not shielded, but has a thick, tough skin. This all-over protection is not only helpful against attacks by large animals, but enables it to travel through thorny, sharp undergrowth without harm. It has been given other means of defense too. Where the soil is soft it escapes by burrowing rapidly with its long claws. Once it is underground, it is almost impossible to pull out. Some varieties can roll into a tight ball so they are completely protected by their armor.
Although they have only very small teeth at the back of their mouths, like their relative the anteater, they have long, sticky tongues which they use to catch great quantities of ants, termites, beetles and other insects. The fangs of snakes cannot pierce their armor, so all reptiles fear them since the armadillo can kill them by pressing its armor's sharp edges into them. Besides killing and eating snakes, they eat spiders, earthworms and land snails, but their main food is what we call destructive insects, including fire ants. So they are a real help to farmers.
It is interesting to watch them cross a stream. Since they are able to hold their breath for as long as five or six minutes, they walk along the bottom of the stream to reach the other side. The weight of their armor keeps them from floating away. But if they decide to swim across, they first swallow lots of air, which keeps them on the surface while they paddle along.
Females of the nine-banded species almost always bear quadruplets (four), and they are either all males or all females—never mixed. Their armor is soft when they are born, but it soon toughens and hardens as they get older.
We can see that the Creator was very careful in providing the armadillo with such protection, but did you know that God offers you armor too? In Rom. 13:12 it is called "the armor of light," and in Eph. 6:11-17 we learn that faith in the Lord Jesus as our Savior provides armor to protect us from any attack of our wicked enemy, Satan. In this scripture it is referred to as "the whole armor of God," and everyone who trusts in the Lord Jesus as Savior is invited to put it on.
Are you wearing this shelter and protection?

The Pika - a Mountain Farmer

"The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat in due season." Psa. 145:15.
Not many have heard of the pika. This little animal measures only a little over six inches long and weighs only about half a pound. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in energy. In North America it is found only among the rocks high in the mountains of western United States and Canada.
The outstanding thing about a pika is its busy activity in the summer months. It wisely prepares food for use in wintertime, when the snow will lie deep and it must stay in its den with its family. Unlike many mountain animals it does not hibernate, but does remain quite inactive during the cold season.
While cutting and gathering plants, flowers, berries, aspen leaves and other vegetation growing around its home, it is constantly in motion during the summer and fall. God has provided this cute little animal with four incisor teeth on the upper jaw to do all this work. A lot of food is necessary, because one little pika family will need about fifty pounds of dried food during the cold winter days while confined inside the den.
Everything it cuts or gathers is brought near the entrance of its cave. Like a farmer preparing his hay, it piles it in separate mounds in the sunshine to dry in the clear air of the mountains. When rain threatens, it carefully picks up these piles and carries them inside the cave, bringing them back out for further drying when the sun shines again. My, what a busy little fellow he is!
Where did it get this wisdom? And how does it know how to store the foodstuff underground so it will not mildew or rot away? This wisdom is given to it by God who, in creating everything "after its kind," has provided for its unique way of life. This is passed down from generation to generation, without the need of lessons or experiments. If it didn't know how to do this it would die the very first winter of its life. The divine Crator watches over everything He has made and provides for the needs of each one in His own wise way.
Living so far from civilization the pika is much like the coney spoken of in Prov. 30:26: "The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks." Eagles, hawks and many animals are enemies of this quiet little fellow, but when sheltered by the rocks, into which he hurries when they come close, he is perfectly safe.
When David was delivered from his enemies he said: "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in Him will I trust." 2 Sam. 22:2,3. He is the only refuge from Satan, our dread enemy. Do you know Him as the Rock of your salvation?

Little Joey and Big Boomer

"All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." John 1:3
In Australia kangaroos are a familiar sight. Sometimes they are considered a pest because they eat grass needed by the many flocks of sheep, and they also trespass into people's gardens. Even traffic signs warn drivers about kangaroos on the roads.
These animals have small heads and rather large ears, but what is most noticeable is their hind legs and feet. Their front legs and feet (used more like arms and hands) are about half the size of their hind legs and feet, which on some species are three feet long. They also have large tails that give them support when grazing or leaping. Both their tails and the strong claws on their hind feet can be used as powerful weapons when needed.
The great gray and the great red kangaroos are the largest. Before man came to Australia, great numbers of them covered the plains, but shepherds have killed many of them. These big fellows, about seven feet high, weigh two hundred pounds or more and travel in fifteen-foot leaps.
A baby kangaroo is called a joey. It is born undeveloped and is only about an inch long. It is amazing that it survives, but God provided protection for these little ones. The mother has a pouch shaped like a pocket, close to the ground, where the baby is sheltered from anything that might harm it. Within three minutes after a joey is born, it crawls into this pouch. It could not live any longer than that if it were not for this safe hideout. How remarkable that God gave it this instinct to search for a hiding place so promptly.
When a joey is safely in the pouch, he quickly finds his mother's milk. Because he is not strong enough as yet to suck, the mother pumps milk into his tiny mouth. This continues for about four months. Soon fuzzy fur begins to appear on the joey. When he weighs about ten pounds, he will begin to venture outside his mother's pouch. He is more than a year old before his diet changes from milk to grass. Then he is no longer a joey but is known as a boomer, or sometimes called a roo.
God not only created these unusual animals, but He takes care of them too. Psa. 145:16 says, "Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."
Animals are not able to thank God, but we are. We should not only thank Him for His care over us, but we should also acknowledge His love and accept His gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only through His work on the cross that we can be saved from the punishment of our sins and have everlasting life. Have you accepted Him as your Savior and thanked Him for dying for you?

The Colobus Monkey

"Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things.... He is strong in power." Isa. 40:26
The most common Colobus monkey has a black body with a fringe of long, silky, white hair, a flowing black mane and a long, hairy, white tail. Several species of this pretty animal live in the rain forests of Africa and are usually named for their color. There is the black, the green, and the red with its attractive orange and brownish-black colors. All are acrobatic and great tree climbers and spend most of their lives in trees.
All of the Colobus species take good care of their young. An observer watched a mother and father standing close together, teaching a baby to leap between their shoulders. Each day the distance was increased until the little one was able to make long jumps, which it would soon have to do when following the parents through the trees.
Another time a mother was sitting on a branch looking down at her baby who was on the ground unable to reach her. The mother let down her long tail, and the young one jumped up and grasped it and quickly climbed up.
These interesting monkeys are also called leaf monkeys. This is because they live almost entirely on leaves. When God created them, He gave them a specialized stomach and digestive system, along with molar teeth designed to chew and grind leaves. These body parts are different from all other monkeys. When the monkey has finished eating, it climbs to a treetop and sits for hours while it digests its food. Isn't it wonderful how God made the Colobus different from other monkeys, though they all look and act similar? This is another display of His delight in showing His creative power and wisdom in many different ways.
While monkeys are more clever than most animals, much of their activity is through God-given instincts, which they could not survive without. And as we have noted, their bodies were designed by the Creator to take care of their specific needs. They could not have gradually developed this way over periods of time, because they could not survive if all their parts were not perfectly formed at the beginning.
These pretty animals do not know about the God who watches over them. But His Word, the Bible, tells us He is not only the Creator, but also the One who loves us and has provided salvation for anyone who will come to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, for forgiveness of his or her sins. Job said, "I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause: which doeth great things and unsearchable" (Job 5:8-9). We are urged to accept Him as our very own Savior and are promised: "Those that seek Me early shall find Me" (Prov. 8:17). Do not wait any longer to turn to Him.

The Restless Caribou

"God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it." Isa. 45:18.
With temperatures going to 80° below zero, the frozen regions of Alaska, the Yukon and many other northern areas are often thought of as wastelands where nothing can live. But actually many creatures, including the caribou, make it their home.
A full-grown caribou weighs about 400 pounds and is nearly four feet tall and six feet long from nose to stubby tail. The Creator has provided them with all they need to survive in the cold, including soft, thick fur insulated by hollow hairs. They require much food, yet they live in regions where grass and leaves are not plentiful. The Lord God, of whom the Psalmist says, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle," has created a special food for them known as reindeer moss or lichen (pronounced ly-ken). This grows rapidly in the summer months, covering the ground and clinging to trunks and branches of trees. It is a rich food and can be eaten year-round. In deep snow where there are no trees from which the lichen can be eaten, a God-given instinct tells them to search below. The caribou have sharp hoofs that dig through snow and ice to this ever-ready meal. Most of their wakeful time in winter is spent digging and eating.
Caribou are about the most restless of all animals. They roam in large herds numbering in the thousands. These large herds devour all food wherever they stop, and they must move on each day to find more. During their migrations they travel at least 600 miles northward in the summer, where the little ones are born, and then return in the winter. Nothing stops these migrations. If mountains are too high to cross, the caribou go around them. If lakes and rivers are not frozen, they swim through them.
All caribou have antlers, and the male's main prongs, or racks, often grow five feet long. Two smaller prongs grow forward, with palm leaf endings, while the two main ones, shaped like huge cradles, grow flat over the back before curving upwards to a great height. These, together with their strong legs and sharp hoofs, make dangerous weapons. Many a wolf, thinking it could overcome a caribou, has learned too late that it is no match against a strong, healthy caribou. Yet wolves do follow herds, and if they discover a calf separated from the others, or a crippled adult, they will successfully attack and kill it. This reminds us of Satan, the evil one who, we are warned, "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8.
Boys and girls need the protection of their parents. A godly family will ask the Lord each day to help guide and preserve them from Satan's attacks. All the members of the family, young and old alike, need to feed continually on the Bible, the living Word, so they do not become weak, or then the enemy can harm them, too. Let us thank God for His wonderful promise: "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength... they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isa. 40:31. Are you trusting in Him?

The River Otter

"[God] made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is." Psa. 146:6
The river otter is a streamlined, beautiful animal, having a thick, warm fur coat. Its thick, flexible body is 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 ft. long, including its tail. Its webbed feet make it an excellent swimmer that can swim underwater for a quarter mile without coming up for air. It lives throughout Canada, Alaska and the lower forty-eight states.
This is one animal that seems to have been given the ability to really enjoy life. It loves to play all kinds of games with other otters, even wrestling and playing hide-and-seek. Just about any loose item it comes across becomes a plaything. It is famous for sliding down muddy slopes or icy hills into the water. Both young and old alike spend hours tobogganing in this manner. They seem to enjoy the sensation and the cool bath at the end of the slide. On snow they sometimes make a quick run, then fold their legs under them for a fast slide on their smooth stomachs.
Their homes are usually burrows dug in the bank of a stream or river. Sometimes they will use an abandoned burrow of some other animal. One to five pups are born between February and April. Water is the otter's natural home, but even so, the pups have to be taught to swim. They soon become very fast, skillful swimmers and easily dive for fish. They also eat crawfish, frogs, snails, insects and sometimes a snake.
Coyotes, foxes and badgers are its enemies, but the river otter is so fast on its feet that it can only be caught when taken by surprise. If a fight results, it usually gets the best of its enemy because the Creator has provided it with very sharp teeth and claws.
The habits of the river otter are certainly amusing as we observe its way of life. Wouldn't it be wonderful if humans could live together in such a happy way? Sadly, the human race seldom does because of the evil nature that lives within us. Satan takes advantage of it in every possible way. Scripture refers to us as "fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and [are] by nature the children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3).
But there is One who can change our hearts: "Our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a [special] people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:13-14).
When we know this One as our Savior, we receive a new nature and can say, "Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy....Let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee" (Psa. 5:11).

The Ways of the Beaver

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." Rev. 4:11
Once there were millions of beavers in streams, lakes and ponds throughout the United States and Canada, but to meet demands of fashion, trappers killed them mercilessly for their lovely fur, nearly wiping them out. Fortunately, the fashion designers changed their designs so that beavers were spared to gradually rebuild their colonies. Should you be visiting some of the mountain areas of the West or lakes in the North, you might get a glimpse of this fascinating creature.
Water is a prime necessity for the beaver, and God has provided it with adaptability to its wet surroundings. A full-grown animal will be about three-and-a-half feet long, including a flat tail about five inches wide and a foot long. This tail is most important; a beaver uses it, along with its paws, to plaster its home and dams with mud. Its tail is also a rudder for this excellent, web-footed swimmer and serves as a support while it stands on shore or gnaws on trees and shrubs. When a beaver slaps that flat tail hard on the water's surface, the sound is a warning for its companions to seek cover from an enemy coming too close for comfort.
This animal is a remarkable engineer, building watertight dams, some a half mile long, to form ponds. It also builds a house or lodge as much as eight feet high and thirty feet in diameter. Several beaver families may live in these lodges and have rooms for storing food for winter and other rooms for raising their young. Here they are safe from their enemies, for their entrances and exits are all underwater, although the living quarters are always high and dry.
A beaver's most prominent feature is its teeth, which are large, sharp and strong. It uses them to cut down trees, which are then used in building dams, homes or for food. Incidentally, their teeth never stop growing. To keep them from getting hopelessly long, they must wear them down by gnawing.
The amazing skills of the beaver didn't come about by trial and error. God provided them with every feature and ability when He created them.
God puts a responsibility on all mankind to recognize His Son as the Creator of all things. But more important yet, He has been made known to the world as the Savior to those who trust in Him or as the Judge to those who refuse Him. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). How solemn the warning, "Take heed... lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Heb. 3:12).

The Barbary Ape

"The eyes of all wait upon Thee.... Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing." Psa. 145:15-16
It's fun to watch monkeys in the zoo, especially when they do tricks their trainers have taught them. Even King Solomon found them interesting and brought some to Jerusalem, probably as part of his zoo.
There are many species of monkeys and apes in God's creation, and He has supplied everything they need. Since they do look a little like humans, some people think that humans and monkeys are related, but the Bible assures us this is not so. There are many differences, both in body structure and intelligence. Apes and monkeys are part of the animal creation. Man was formed separately and is distinct and superior to all other created things. The Bible says, "God created man in His [God's] own image" (Gen. 1:27).
The Barbary ape is actually a monkey rather than an ape. It is a native of Africa but is also a famous resident of the Rock of Gibraltar where it was found when the British came there in 1704. These apes live in large colonies of several dozen, with a powerful male as their leader. He is responsible for the behavior of those in his colony, although the young ones being full of play and mischief are given lots of freedom. Babies are lovingly nursed by their mothers and cling to their mothers' fur for the first few weeks of life. They eventually grow to be about three feet tall. They have excellent memories and are always curious about anything new or strange.
Like most monkeys, the Barbary ape is a great climber and very acrobatic even though it has no tail. Most of its time is spent searching for food, which includes fruit, leaves, roots, seeds, locusts and lizards. Its sense of smell is poor, but its sight and hearing are excellent.
Barbary apes live where there are many dangerous scorpions that have deadly, poisonous stingers in their tails. But this ape has no fear of them. When a scorpion is spotted, the ape quickly pounces on it in just the right way. Then the tail with its poisonous stinger is twisted off, and the ape has a scorpion dinner. How long do you think it took these apes to learn this trick? Actually, they did not need to learn it, because God gave them that ability when He created them.
We are impressed with God's watchful care over these interesting apes. But the psalmist was thinking of something even more impressive when he exclaimed, "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!" (Psa. 139:17). Have you thought of God's loving care in providing a Savior for you? He invites you to come to Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, that you might have your sins forgiven and have everlasting life.

The Sea and Some of Its Inhabitants: Chapter 5

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep." Psa. 107:23,24

A Day at the Seashore: Part 1

"Even the winds and the sea obey Him!" Matt. 8:27
How refreshing the salt air is as we arrive at the seashore. Each person in our group wants to be first to the water, but first someone asks the question, "How many things here remind us of God's creation? For instance, where did all this sand come from?"
Here is the answer. A microscope would reveal that sand is made up of tiny particles of rock (mainly quartz which prevents the sand from grinding to powder), seashells, bits of minerals and even material from underwater volcanos. All of this, tossed up by the waves, continually adds to the freshness and beauty of what was placed here when the world was made by the Creator. The sandy beach is also a barrier to keep the ocean from washing away the adjoining soil. Someone in our group remembers the verse, "Here shall thy proud waves be stayed" (Job 38:11).
We have arrived at the beach at low tide, and the water is way out. As we walk across the sand someone exclaims, "Look at all the pretty stones I found!" Soon everyone is searching for pretty stones. Where did they come from? The action of waves pounding rocky beaches and inflowing streams breaks and carries chunks of rock into the water. These are tumbled over and over by the waves, smoothly polishing them. Finally some of them tumble close to shore where they can be seen. Someone asks, "Isn't there a verse that says, 'For Thy pleasure they are and were created'?"
"Yes," is the answer, "in the very last verse of Rev. 4. Think what pleasure God must have as He sees all the beautiful stones He has created on beaches throughout the world."
Something else catches our attention—seashells—all kinds of them—round, oval, spiral, ribbed and smooth. Many of them have beautiful colors! Each one used to be a home for a live shellfish, and after it died the shell washed ashore. Seashells must be included in that Bible verse too.
Someone rolls over a large stone, and we see little crabs and other creatures scurrying away to find another hiding place. Some of these creatures are sand hoppers with their 14 pairs of legs. They dig furiously to escape, while aggravated sand fleas hop about. Look, there goes a seaworm, and right behind it a centipede. Do all rocks on the seashore hide these different kinds of life? Yes, usually they do. It is just a small display of the many creatures God has made that live on ocean shores.
As we walk toward the water, the shells also remind us that death follows life. For these creatures of the sand and sea, there is nothing after death. But every human being has a soul that never dies. During his life on earth, he is the only one of God's creation who has the opportunity to find God's way of preparing for the more important life that is yet to come. God's Word, the Bible, says, "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). Have you accepted this wonderful gift?
We have spent so much time watching these interesting things that we will have to wait until next week to resume our walk across the beach to the ocean.

A Day at the Seashore: Part 2

"Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, Thou stillest them." Psa. 89:9
Last week we began a visit to a saltwater beach. We were interested in finding things that remind us of God's creation. We can plainly hear the roar of the waves as we walk toward the water. A little squirt of water pops up at our feet, signaling a clam down in the wet sand. How does it breathe and eat buried down there? God has designed it for this life with a long, tube-like neck called a siphon. It extends to the surface to keep its breathing and eating vent open. When waves come, water flows down the clam's siphon bringing food with it. Does God see the clam buried in the sand? Yes, He does. The Bible says, "The darkness and the light are both alike to Thee" (Psa. 139:12).
We hear the cries of flying sea gulls. One drops down for food its sharp eyes have spotted. Notice how swiftly the sandpipers run, chasing receding waves for bits of food left behind on the sand. Suddenly, they all take to the air. How gracefully they fly, all turning together as though following a given signal. Along the shore there are also avocets. Their curved bills pecking at the sand are finding food that we cannot even see! Someone reminds us that the Lord cares for each creature and remembers Psa. 145:9, which says, "The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works."
We cross a rocky area where we inspect pools left behind when the tide went out. Some of these pools have colorful sea anemones showing a display of delicate tentacles as tiny fish swim around them. Periwinkles cling to the bottom and sides of their tide-pool prison. In some pools there are pretty shells, starfish, snails, barnacles, mussels, sea urchins, crabs and even small octopuses. We think it must delight the Creator to look into these pools and see all these living creatures that are under His care.
Leaving the tide pools, we have to step around piles of kelp and brown and red seaweed left on the beach. These look like whips, although some are lacy. They tell of storms which have torn them loose from the sea and washed them ashore. Mixed in among them are sand dollars, stranded jellyfish and sometimes a dead fish.
How interesting to look at all these strange things and realize they are part of the wonderful creation of "The Mighty God, The Lord of hosts, is His name; great in counsel, and mighty in work" (Jer. 32:18-19). Did you know that in His Word He has invited you to be one of His children by believing in the work of His beloved Son on Calvary's cross? "By Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law" (Acts 13:39).
Next week we will finish our visit to the ocean.

Two Oddities of the Ocean

"God created great whales, and every living creature that [moves], which the waters brought forth abundantly." Gen. 1:21
The carrier shell is native to the waters of Japan, the Philippines and Malaysia. It is an unusual marine animal that looks like a pile of dead shellfish.
Although it has its own shell, parts of its body are not covered, so it seems to be looking for added protection. As it moves about on the ocean floor and finds an empty shell, it adds a thin coating of new material to the shell with its mouth. This, along with a cement it produces, enables the new shell to stick to the carrier's back wherever it chooses to place it.
This unusual little creature will often add a dozen or more shells to its back and sides. This strange habit apparently adds protection and at the same time conceals it from its enemies.
The harp shell is also a creature of tropical waters. Its strong, ribbed shell is large and beautiful with a variety of colors. Most of its time is spent plowing through the sandy ocean bottom, searching for shrimp or crabs.
Its method of catching a crab is interesting. The harp shell and the crab are enemies; the crab loves to eat the harp, and the harp loves to eat the crab. However, when they meet, the harp usually wins. When the harp finds a crab, it purposely exposes part of its "foot" which the crab immediately grabs. Since this is an expendable part of the harp, the "foot" breaks off easily and later grows back. While the crab is occupied with eating this treat, the harp moves around it, covering its enemy with a sticky substance on which it throws a mound of sand. The crab can't escape! The meal which it so eagerly accepted was really a trap. Now the harp has its turn and eats the crab.
These are strange but interesting details of sea life. We may not understand why they were created, but they are part of God's purposes in the ways of the ocean. We know these creatures were not originally made to devour one another, but their peaceful way of life was disrupted when sin came into the world. Thankfully, there is a time coming when everything will be made right. However, before that time comes, a dreadful judgment is coming. All who have refused God's gift of salvation will stand before the great white throne to hear that judgment pronounced against them.
Listen to the Bible's warning and "escape for thy life!" Turn to Christ the Savior of sinners right now, while there is still time. "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He [knows] them that trust in Him" (Nah. 1:7).

Houses Under the Sea: Part 1

"O Lord... the earth is full of Thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts." Psa. 104:24-25
Clams, scallops and oysters are included in the family known as bivalves. They all live in double shells, hinged with a strong ligament, which they can open or close.
Most clams live in soft sand or mud where they disappear quickly when danger threatens. The razor clam, an especially tasty treat, can dig its way to safety faster than most people can dig to catch it. But some clams, such as the quahog, do not dig at all.
The boring clam, which needs to be loosened with a pickaxe, can burrow into hard clay or sandstone, using the sharp edge of its shell as a tool. Its extended "foot" anchors it in place while working, and a tube, called a siphon (which can be as much as a foot long), extends up to the clean, surface water for its food supply.
In the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, giant clams, up to four feet long and weighing several hundred pounds, thrive in large colonies.
Scallops are similar in many ways to clams. Their orange flesh, housed in a pretty ribbed shell, is a favorite of seafood lovers. The unusual feature about a scallop is its ability to swim through the water by jet propulsion while its double shell opens and closes.
Oysters, found in most of the world's oceans, have their own way of life. They do not burrow; they remain on the bottom or cling to some solid object. They obtain microscopic food particles from the constant flow of water passing over them. Because oysters are a tasty food in great demand, "oyster farms" raise them commercially in many places.
Pearls, found in oysters, are the result of an irritant, like sand, that gets inside the shell. The oyster tries to relieve this irritation by covering the grain of sand with nacre (a substance called mother-of-pearl). As the layers of nacre build up, they eventually produce a lovely pearl (white, pink, black or gray) and usually have a shiny luster to add to their beauty.
None of these shellfish are aware of their dependence on God, yet "these wait all upon Thee; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season" (Psa. 104:27). How gracious a provider He is to all His creation. But we ourselves should be aware of our dependence on Him, as the question asks, "Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:9-10).
Let us never forget to thank Him for every blessing, and especially for the gift of His beloved Son "who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6).

Houses Under the Sea: Part 2

"O Lord... the earth is full of Thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts." Psa. 104:24-25
Clams, scallops and oysters are included in the family known as bivalves. They all live in double shells, hinged with a strong ligament, which they can open or close.
Most clams live in soft sand or mud where they disappear quickly when danger threatens. The razor clam, an especially tasty treat, can dig its way to safety faster than most people can dig to catch it. But some clams, such as the quahog, do not dig at all.
The boring clam, which needs to be loosened with a pickaxe, can burrow into hard clay or sandstone, using the sharp edge of its shell as a tool. Its extended "foot" anchors it in place while working, and a tube, called a siphon (which can be as much as a foot long), extends up to the clean, surface water for its food supply.
In the tropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, giant clams, up to four feet long and weighing several hundred pounds, thrive in large colonies.
Scallops are similar in many ways to clams. Their orange flesh, housed in a pretty ribbed shell, is a favorite of seafood lovers. The unusual feature about a scallop is its ability to swim through the water by jet propulsion while its double shell opens and closes.
Oysters, found in most of the world's oceans, have their own way of life. They do not burrow; they remain on the bottom or cling to some solid object. They obtain microscopic food particles from the constant flow of water passing over them. Because oysters are a tasty food in great demand, "oyster farms" raise them commercially in many places.
Pearls, found in oysters, are the result of an irritant, like sand, that gets inside the shell. The oyster tries to relieve this irritation by covering the grain of sand with nacre (a substance called mother-of-pearl). As the layers of nacre build up, they eventually produce a lovely pearl (white, pink, black or gray) and usually have a shiny luster to add to their beauty.
None of these shellfish are aware of their dependence on God, yet "these wait all upon Thee; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season" (Psa. 104:27). How gracious a provider He is to all His creation. But we ourselves should be aware of our dependence on Him, as the question asks, "Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:9-10).
Let us never forget to thank Him for every blessing, and especially for the gift of His beloved Son "who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6).

The Friendly Dolphin

"Happy is he... whose hope is in the Lord his God: which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is." Psa. 146:5,6.
Below the ocean's surface a dolphin is giving birth to a baby which will be about three-feet long and weigh more than a hundred pounds. Coming up occasionally for air, she will require an hour's time to bring the little one into the world (or should we say, into the sea?). If this baby would be born headfirst, like most other creatures, it would drown, for it must breathe air. So God has provided that it will be born tailfirst, and it won't need to breathe until the very last minute of birth.
With birth completed the little one will go to the surface for air with its mother's help. Then she will turn on her side and her baby will have its first meal. About that time another dolphin will make an appearance, looking the baby over carefully. But the mother will not be the least bit worried, because this is an "auntie" that will help in the baby's training and protection until it matures.
Dolphins (or porpoises) have never been known to purposely hurt any person and are quick to make friends. They love to swim alongside ships and, because they can swim very fast, they frequently go great distances, often swimming in large circles around the ships.
Dolphins are friendly with each other, too, and communicate by means of squeaks, clicks and whistles. When one is injured others stay with it, guiding or pushing it out of danger. Should one of them be unable to rise to the surface for air, others lift it up in an effort to save its life.
These charming creatures spend all their time in the water and have no way of surviving on land. Yet they really are air-breathing mammals. They can stand the high pressures of deep dives, partly by an ability to take more oxygen into their lungs than land animals do. Their bodies are remarkably streamlined for fast movement through the water so they easily catch fish, which is their principal food. The bigger varieties grow up to fifteen-feet long and weigh a half ton or more, but the bottlenose variety, commonly seen in aquariums and performing in water shows, are closer to six-feet long and weigh about 250 pounds.
How wonderful it is that God has populated the world with so many interesting beings, all of whom are dependent on Him for life. It is truly said: "The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing." Psa. 145:15,16. Have you ever thanked the Lord for His kindness in providing for you?
In the same Psalm we are told: "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them." (vv. 18, 19). This is His invitation to us to call on Him for the salvation of our eternal souls. We may be certain all who call on Him in this way will find Him a sure and loving Savior. Have you made that personal call to Him?

The Octopus

The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works." Psa. 145:9
In spite of its frightful appearance, the octopus is usually a very timid creature and will not attack a person unless he tries to invade its home. There are more than 150 varieties of octopuses. Some are less than an inch across, others are thirty feet or more from the tip of one outstretched tentacle to the tip of an opposite outstretched tentacle, but most are only about three feet across.
This odd resident of the ocean has a body with a large, dome-shaped head, containing not only its brain, but also its stomach and other organs. These are covered by a membrane called a mantle. It has huge, human-like eyes behind its mouth and strong, parrot-type beak. Eight snake-like tentacles stretch out from its body, each having on its underside about one hundred suction cups that attach themselves with a vise-like grip onto anything. The eight tentacles also act as feet to move along the ocean floor and as hands to pull up and over an underwater rock.
A large opening in the mantle is always moving, sucking water over its gills and out through a siphon. This siphon can be pointed in any direction to provide jet propulsion. It also squirts inky fluid to make a "smoke screen" when pursued. Attached to the octopus's skin are little bags of pigment. When these bags are held open, various colors are exposed, which the octopus can change to appear striped, mottled or a solid color, to match its surroundings. How wonderfully the Creator has designed this creature for its way of life deep in the ocean!
The octopus does have enemies—squid, whales and large eels. As a result, it hunts at night. In daytime it hides in a cave where it piles old shells and rocks by the entrance.
Do you think God sees these octopuses deep on the ocean floor? He certainly does. The Bible tells us, "Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters" (Psa. 77:19). God sees and cares for everything He has created and He never takes His eye off them.
But He has a special care for you and me whom He has created "in His own image" (Gen. 1:27). We are the only creatures invited to come to Him in faith. His Word assures us that "the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He [knows] them that trust in Him" (Nah. 1:7).
If you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you may say as the Apostle Paul did, "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39).

The Walrus

"God created great whales, and every living creature that [moves]." Gen. 1:21
One of these great creatures is the walrus, and what a strange animal it is, with its long tusks, whiskers and clumsy body! It lives in the regions near the North Pole where the terrain is mostly ice and water. A walrus feeds mostly on clams, shrimp, sea urchins and plants that grow on the ocean bottom. It uses its tusks to dig out this food from the ocean bed. Its tusks are also useful weapons against its enemy—the polar bear. A full-grown walrus may be ten feet long and weigh as much as a ton.
How can the walrus live in such adverse conditions, where an unprotected man would quickly freeze to death? And, being a mammal, how can it dive to great depths for its food without drowning? The answer to both questions is that God has created it in a very special way that enables it to survive.
The walrus’s chief protection from the cold is a thick layer of blubber between its skin and flesh. The walrus needs to maintain a comfortable body temperature and could not do so without this insulation. God has also provided a built-in "thermostat" that automatically starts blood pumping from the blubber to the muscles, flesh and internal body organs the moment the animal enters the freezing water, keeping it very comfortable. But in leaving the water and returning to the ice or seashore, it would be too warm with all that hot blood circulating through its body, so the "thermostat" goes to work and the right proportion of blood returns into the blubber and skin where the heat radiates off. Exposed to the air, it is soon back to a comfortable temperature.
As this is an air-breathing mammal, God has given it "valves" that shut off its breathing whenever it dives beneath the surface, where it may stay a half hour or so. Then when it surfaces, the "valves" open again and it can resume breathing. Without that provision it would drown.
We do not know just why these strange animals were created. They do, of course, provide food for the Inuit people, as well as skins, blubber and ivory tusks that are useful. It might seem odd that such unusual creatures would inhabit the cold places of the north, but God had His purpose in placing them there and adapting them to such harsh surroundings.
But, while God watches carefully over all the animals, He is more intensely interested in every boy and girl, every man and woman, whom He has created and does not intend for us to remain on this earth forever. He invites us to accept His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our Savior, and when we do He promises us "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4). Have you accepted this wonderful invitation?

Dugong, the Sea Cow

"O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all." Psa. 104:24
Most of us have never seen a dugong, because they live in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the waters around Australia. In many ways, their habits are like porpoises', but they are larger, often between 8 and 15 feet long and weighing up to 750 pounds. They are air-breathing mammals, but like the sea lions of the north, they have heavy bones which help them submerge quickly. Their nostrils automatically close when underwater, where they can remain from 5 to 8 minutes before returning to the surface for air.
Like dolphins and whales, dugongs stay close by their mates, usually traveling as a family with their calf beside them. If one is injured, the other stays close by, helping it rise to the surface for air. The female, which usually has one calf each year, floats on her back and cradles the little one in her flippers when nursing it. This permits the calf to breathe while nursing.
Unlike dolphins and whales, dugongs do not eat fish or marine life. Their diet is strictly seaweed and grasses that grow beneath the water's surface. This explains the nickname "sea cow." God has equipped them especially for this kind of life. Since they feed mostly in the twilight or darkness, He has given them large eyes which have a protective, transparent covering instead of eyelids. Their ears are only openings on each side of their heads, yet they have excellent hearing.
Besides having efficient flippers, dugongs have forked tails similar to whales, which help them to maneuver swiftly. Their upper lips are covered with long, tough, bristle-like hairs which help them select plant food. Their teeth are designed to quickly cut through the tough stems of seaweed and other water plants. An adult will eat almost 100 pounds of food each day. Where large numbers group together, they use up the food supply and must move to another location.
Dugongs have been around since the days of creation and were given all their abilities to survive when the Lord God created them. All their needs were provided for when they were placed on the earth.
As the many wonders of God's creation come to our attention, it is good to think about His counsel: "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" (Eccl. 12:1). We know He is the Creator of all things, but He is more than that to those who believe His Word: "[He] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth...[and to believe in] the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:4-6). Besides being your Creator, is He also your Savior?

A Three-Ton Baby

"God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth." Gen. 1:21
Blue whales are the largest and fastest-swimming whale. A newborn blue whale may be twenty-three feet long and weigh three tons at birth. That is one huge baby! But the mother herself may be one hundred feet long and weigh one hundred fifty tons!
Whales of all kinds are found throughout the world's oceans. Many of them spend summers in the Arctic where they are protected from the cold water by a layer of blubber about two feet thick. Before winter comes, large groups migrate thousands of miles south where the calves are born. In spring, they return north.
Although they look like huge fish, whales are mammals and breathe air. They can dive three thousand feet and stay underwater as long as an hour, but they will drown if they are trapped underwater. While underwater, their bodies use oxygen very efficiently; their hearts beat slowly and blood circulation is reduced. When they finally come up for air, they exhale through "blowholes" as they reach the surface, causing a spout of water and vapor to rise twenty feet or more in the air.
Some whales have teeth and eat solid food, including fish, squid, octopus and turtles. These are called toothed whales. Others, like the blue whale, have no teeth and are called baleen whales. Opening their mouths as they swim, seawater passes over hundreds of "baleen plates," hanging down from the upper jaw. When they expell the water, these plates strain out the plankton and a few fish which the whales swallow.
Like porpoises, whales are usually quite sociable. They often leap out of the water, play tag and circle boats. The mothers have the help of "aunties" in raising their young. By use of a remarkable sonar system, whales communicate, even miles apart, by a series of whistles, clicks and grunts. A wounded whale is never deserted. Others stay with it until it recovers or dies.
Whether we look at these, the largest of all living creatures on earth, or use a microscope to examine the smallest, the handiwork of God is always evident. Each has its purpose in creation and has been made for His pleasure. Yet, except for one, none are aware of God their Creator or of His care over them.
The exception is mankind, who has been given both intelligence and conscience, as well as the Scriptures. These all tell him of God, not only as Creator, but also of his responsibility to Him and the need of having his sins forgiven. In His love, God desires to forgive our sins and offers eternal life to all who accept His promise and show "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). Have you done this?

The Pretty Little Goby

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep." Psa. 107:23-24
Those who live in the islands of the Caribbean Sea and have explored underwater in the bays or along the reefs have seen beautiful and fascinating sights. Among all the colorful sights, they may have observed a small, bright-blue fish known as the goby. This little fish lives a rather unusual life.
Most little fish try to remain hidden, fearing that larger fish will eat them. But the goby remains entirely exposed on a piece of coral where it lives and has a little business going. It has no fear of larger fish; in fact, it seems to try to attract them.
The parrot fish, which has beak-like jaws, is one of the goby's regular customers. When a parrot fish sees the goby, it will slowly swim over to it, and then turning upright in the water it spreads out its fins. The goby begins cleaning off and eating all of the small parasites that are attached to the body of the parrot fish. Then the parrot fish will open its mouth wide, and the goby swims inside to clean the teeth and the inside of the parrot fish's mouth. When the cleaning is finished, the goby swims out, the parrot fish swims away, and the goby has had a good meal for its work.
Other species of fish, such as the surgeon fish and the vicious bar jack, are also cleaned by the goby. Both of these could easily swallow the little goby whole.
How is it that a little fish could overcome natural fear of larger fish that could so easily eat it? What makes the otherwise vicious killers come peacefully to this little fish, even letting it swim into their jaws without harming it? Here we have another wonder of God's creation, displaying that "with God all things are possible." It also shows His wisdom in providing a working relationship between creatures who would normally be enemies, that they might help each other through this arrangement.
Let us remember that the Lord God is the Creator of all things and is also the Provider for them. His eye is always on even the smallest and strangest of His creatures, and all form a part of His wise purposes. Of most importance, it is "the Lord God [who] formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (Gen. 2:7). The little goby and the big fish do not have this, but God's Word tells us that He has loved you and me with an everlasting love and would draw us to Himself through Christ the Savior. Do not turn away from Him, but accept His love today.

About the Salmon

"Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee." Job 12:8.
Job was rightly impressed with the fact that all things on earth, as well as the fish in the waters, should speak of God's ways to everyone who will listen.
The story of the salmon is an interesting one. Its eggs are laid in the gravel bed of a cold mountain stream. When the egg hatches, the little salmon lives a few days on the yolk sac to which it is attached. It finally frees itself from this sac and leaves its gravel bed to make a home in the stream. In Alaska mosquitoes breed in great numbers. Their larvae, which the fish finds in nearby pools, become its principal food.
After six months to a year in these waters, an inner urge causes it to move toward the ocean. With hundreds and sometimes thousands of others, it begins its long trip to the ocean, swimming backwards wherever the stream is swift or cascades and waterfalls are present. By swimming backwards, facing upstream, it can control its movements and avoids drowning in the swift currents. How does it know enough to do this? God has given it that knowledge!
Following its long swim downstream the young salmon leaves the fresh water and enters the salt water of the ocean. Few other species of fish can adapt to such a change. No one is sure where it spends the next four or five years of its life, but we may be sure that God "In whose hand is the soul [or life] of every living thing" (Job 12:10), is watching over it. The mature salmon, some weighing as much as a hundred pounds, turns back toward the fresh water returning to the spot where it first entered the ocean. It travels up this stream all the way to its exact birthplace. Enroute it must jump waterfalls ten feet high or higher, shelf by shelf, but always presses on. Large numbers, males and females together, make the journey, each leaving the group when it comes to the little stream where it first came to life.
At its final destination the female, with a swoop of her strong tail, makes a trench in the gravel bed. There she lays thousands of eggs, fertilized by the male. Then both of them, having finished their work, float down the current and will die somewhere along the way. They have literally given their lives to provide life for others. This causes us to think of the One who gave His life that others might have eternal life. What have you thought of Him? "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Men marvel at the ways of this spectacular fish. God created it this way in the beginning, and ever since it has obediently followed God's purposes. God desires obedience in us, too, with His sure promise: "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Prov. 3:6.

An Alarm Clock in the Ocean

"The voice of the Lord is upon the waters... the Lord is upon many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty." Psa. 29:3,4.
From March through July each year unusually high tides reach Southern California beaches, at which time one of the wonders of the ocean takes place. In the third or fourth night of the full moon, whenever these extreme tides are due, swarms of grunion (a small edible fish) swim into the surf and allow themselves to be washed ashore on a sandy beach-but not until the highest wave of the incoming tide has past. Ashore on the bare sand, by the light of the moon, the female scoops out a shallow hole with her tail, where she lays hundreds of eggs, followed by the male who fertilizes them. Within thirty seconds, with a final switch of the tail to cover the eggs, all has been accomplished and both male and female wriggle down the beach, to be picked up and swept into the ocean by the next wave.
But how about the eggs? How will they ever hatch in such a peculiar nest? The grunion have been well directed by their Creator in what they have done, for no wave will reach the eggs until the next extreme tide two weeks later. This amount of time in the warm, moist sand provides ample incubation and when a high wave finally reaches them, the eggs pop open and the little fish are washed into the sea to start their busy lives.
This annual event is so reliable that the hour and minute can be foretold and thousands of people flock to the beaches to witness it, some of them catching the fish in their hands.
Is there an alarm clock that tells the grunion just the precise moment to ride in on the biggest wave? And how does it know where the sandy beaches are? If it mistakenly went to a rocky one it would be pounded to pieces. Surely its instructions come only from its Creator and there is no possibility that it will ever think of changing this pattern. How carefully God watches over all His creatures-all of which blend together to show a divine scheme and pattern.
After sin came into the world all things were affected so that today we do not see them in perfection, but we do see something of His might and wisdom even in lowly creatures like the grunion. A time is coming when all will be made right again: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth." Isa. 65:17. But before that takes place there must be God's judgment on this sinful world and all in it who have not had their sins forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ, "who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity." Titus 2:14. How important it is to listen to the warning: "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not." Eccl. 12:1.

A Slippery One - the Eel

"Ask now...and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee." Job 12:7-8
Although they are so long and thin that they look like snakes, eels are actually fish. They have tiny scales embedded in a smooth, slimy skin. They usually grow to about three feet long, but larger ones may grow to five or six feet long.
Male eels spend most of their lives in rivers near the ocean; females go upriver to streams or lakes. After two or three years in fresh water, both males and females head for the ocean at spawning time in the fall. Those in landlocked lakes have a difficult time beginning their journey. They leave the lake in great numbers, wriggling their way for a day or two across fields and ground wet with rain or dew until they find a stream that leads to the ocean. God has equipped them with special gills that hold enough moisture while out of water on this part of their trip.
When the eels reach a stream, they swim downstream, joining others on the way. Many of them are caught in wire traps or nets by people who like them for food. Both European and North American eels that make it to the ocean begin a long migration to the breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda where females deposit thousands of eggs deep below the ocean surface. Here many miles of seaweed is teeming with food which will provide for the needs of baby eels that will appear the following spring. After spawning, the parent eels die.
When the eggs hatch, the young eels are about one-quarter inch long and are thin and transparent. They rise to the surface where they feed for about a year. The North American eels begin the long trip back to the home of their parents. The European eels remain another year to gain the necessary strength for their journey, which will take about three years. When both species reach the stream of their parents, they are still long, thin and transparent and are called elvers. Just like their parents, the males remain in tidal waters, and the females go far inland—the cycle continuing just as God designed it.
How can these little, inexperienced eels reach their destinations with no parents to guide them? The answer is exactly what the Bible tells us of every creature in the seas: "These wait all upon Thee" (Psa. 104:27). He gives them the instinct to follow the paths He has marked out.
And the Lord has a pathway for every boy and girl called "the path of life," which is the way to heaven and everlasting joy. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). If we accept Him as our Savior, then we are sure of being on the right path where He can teach us His way.

More About Eels

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep." Psa. 107:23-24
Besides the eels that can be eaten, which we looked at last week, there are many other kinds, some of which are large and vicious. Let's consider three of these marine eels.
Conger eels and moray eels do not migrate. Both are found in warm waters off the coasts of California, Mexico and parts of Europe. Even though some are as long as eight feet, they live their entire lives in crevices of rocks or coral deep in the ocean. They hide there until a victim comes within reach of their jaws, which have strong, sharp teeth. These creatures will attack almost anything that is small enough for them to eat. Underwater divers are often startled by suddenly coming across one of these eels, but they do not bother humans unless irritated.
In spring, the three-foot-long lamprey eels travel from salt water to fresh water to lay their eggs. A pair swim many miles up mountain streams until shallow water is reached. The male leaves the female and explores the stream bottom. When he finds a suitable spot, he removes stones from the bottom with his sucking mouth and takes them to the shoreline. Soon he has exposed a smooth, sandy bottom where the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. Then they both swim upstream, busily picking up and moving stones around, deliberately stirring up the sand which drifts downstream and covers the eggs.
After hatching, the young eels remain in the stream for four or five years, then swim out to the ocean or a large lake. In their new surroundings, each one seeks out a victim—usually a large fish.
The young eel does not have jaws but has a large sucker mouth, armed with sharp teeth and a rough, cutting tongue. Attaching to the fish's side with its suction mouth, it uses its sharp teeth and rough tongue to make a wound deep enough for blood to flow. It will remain attached to the fish, sometimes for days, sucking out the blood until the fish dies. Then it finds another victim.
These repulsive creatures remind us of Satan. The Bible warns us to beware, lest "through his subtlety ...your minds should be corrupted" (2 Cor. 11:3). It is our sins that make us an easy victim of that evil one, but a gracious God warns us to "flee from the wrath to come "(Matt. 3:7) and turn to the Savior who "is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Heb. 7:25).
Do you realize that you are a sinner under Satan's power, and have you accepted the loving invitation to find a shelter in the Savior?

The Fishing Fish

"In His hand are the deep places of the earth....The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land." Psa. 95:4-5
One of the unusual creatures in the sea is the angler fish. This fish lies at the bottom of warm seas. There are 16 known species, and most of them are less than a foot long. However, a few are as long as 5 feet.
All species of this fish have wide, frog-like mouths, which is the reason they are sometimes called frog fish. Their mouths are filled with long, sharp teeth and can stretch many times their normal size. This enables them to swallow fish almost as large as themselves. These fish are found in a wide variety of shapes, but most have flat heads with bodies tapering down to small tails. One kind partly buries itself in the sandy or muddy bottom of the ocean and looks like the brown rocks surrounding it. Others have leaf-like fins that look just like sea plants. In each case, the Creator has wonderfully camouflaged them to blend in with their surroundings.
The most outstanding feature of these sea residents is that they come equipped with an efficient fishing rod and bait. And they are experts at using them. The "rod" is actually a growth extending from its nose and may be as long as four times the length of the fish. The longest "rods" are usually hinged in the middle to make them more flexible.
A rod without suitable bait would not catch many fish, but these "rods" are already baited with an appealing bait right at the tip. Depending on the species, this bait may look like a worm, a little fish or a different kind of sea life that will attract a hungry fish.
The well-disguised angler fish unfolds its rod and uses the bait just like a human fisherman does to attract fish. While remaining nearly motionless, the angler wiggles its bait until a curious fish comes to inspect what looks like a good meal. The victim discovers too late that it has been trapped. The angler fish, with strong sucking, draws its victim into its mouth and swallows it. Sometimes the bait is swallowed as well, but this does not matter because it quickly grows a replacement.
This clever fish is another evidence of the wonders of God's creation and the care He gives to all. It also reminds us of our enemy Satan who seeks "whom he may devour" and often tempts us with "bait" that is pleasing to the eye. How wise it is to turn away from him and listen to the loving Lord Jesus. His plan for us is one "of peace, and not of evil" (Jer. 29:11). Have you accepted His plan of peace?

The Sea Otter

"Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places." Psa. 135:6
The sea otter lives only along the Asiatic and North American coasts of the Pacific Ocean. It is 5 to 11 feet long, including its tail, and weighs up to 80 pounds. It has beautiful dark brown fur and is rather fussy about its fur, spending hours grooming itself by rubbing its fur with its paws.
The sea otter spends most of its time in salt water. It makes its home in thick beds of kelp (seaweed) where it is quite safe from seals and killer whales, two of its enemies. Before going to sleep, it wraps itself in strands of kelp so it won't drift away. However, sometimes it is seen napping in the open water, floating on its back with its eyes covered with its forepaws.
A female has only one pup at a time which is born in the kelp beds and is totally helpless. In fact, it can't swim until its mother teaches it. She holds it up with her forepaws, much as a person would hold a child while teaching it to swim. The mother cleans its fur continuously.
The Creator has provided the sea otter with ears and a nose that seal closed when it dives. He placed the eyes near the top of its head so it can see while almost totally underwater. As might be expected, it is an excellent swimmer and can swim long distances underwater.
It always seems hungry and eats at all hours. One of its favorite foods is abalone, a shellfish that clings tightly to rocks near the bottom of the ocean. The otter can't pry these loose, but takes a rock from the bottom and smashes the abalone's shell to get at the meat. It also brings clams and other shellfish to the surface along with a good-sized stone. Swimming on its back, it places the stone on its chest, then smashes the clam down on the stone to break its shell and get to the meat.
Sea otters love to play and often chase one another through the water. They have been seen lying on their backs in the water, tossing sticks in the air. They catch the stick in their paws before it hits the water. They will do this over and over.
It is amazing that creatures such as this go on year after year and century after century, doing the same things and being provided for in the same way. This should not surprise us when we stop to think that God made every one of His creatures in just the way that would best suit it for its life's pattern and purposes. He also said at the time of creation, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind...and it was so.... And God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:24-25). So we should not expect any of these creatures to change from one form to another, because God made every creature to appear "after his kind."

Insects Show the Creator's Wisdom, Too: Chapter 6

There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces. Prov. 30:24-28

The World of Insects: Part 1

"Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not Me? saith the Lord." Jer. 5:21-22
Do you know how to tell if something you see crawling or flying is really an insect? One quick way is to count its legs. Insects always have six legs—no more and no less. Spiders are not true insects because they have eight legs.
The word insecta means "in sections," and this is also true. All true insects have three body sections joined together—head, thorax and abdomen. The legs and wings are supported by the middle thorax section. Most insects have four wings, but some have only two, and some don't have any.
When the Lord God created the world and everything in it, He must have had much pleasure in creating the insects since they represent the largest group of visible forms of life. There are over 600,000 species. Some are so small they can only be seen through a microscope. The fairy fly, for instance, is only one-hundredth of an inch long but is perfect in all its parts. At the large end of the scale is the fifteen-inch insect called walking stick, found in New Guinea.
In proportion to their size, insects are the strongest creatures on earth. In experiments, a bumble bee was able to pull more than three hundred times its weight, and a beetle carried more than eight hundred times its weight! When insects walk, their front and back legs on one side and their middle leg on the other side all move at the same time. The Creator may have arranged this so they can keep their balance and are always firmly on the surface.
Most insects begin life as eggs, hatch as larvae or nymphs, then change to pupae, and finally appear as fully formed adults. Having no skeleton or bones, they have been given an armor-like skin for protection. As they grow larger, this splits open and drops off, and a new protective skin soon hardens and replaces it. This happens several times as the insect matures.
Insects breathe, but they have no lungs; they hear, but they have no ears; they smell, but they have no noses; they have eyes, but they cannot close them. Their hearts can pump blood backward or forward. These strange features about insects remind us of the opening verse of this article. The Lord scolded those people who refused to use their eyes to see His ways or to use their ears to hear His word. No wonder He called them "foolish people, and without understanding." We hope none of you will be so foolish! "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb. 4:7).
(to be continued)

The World of Insects: Part 2

"God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." 1 Cor. 1:27
Many books have been written about the unusual features of the world's 600,000 varieties of insects. Approximately a third of the insects are beetles, some of which have unusual habits. We have already written in other articles about the living bomb, the sexton beetle, and the ladybug. The beetle that eats the tobacco plant is called the cigarette beetle; another one eats cork, glue, mustard plasters and certain medicines and is called the drugstore beetle.
There are other unusual insects besides beetles. One of the most beautiful insects is the morpho butterfly, which is covered with a million tiny, colored scales on each wing. Another unusual insect is the water strider that skims over water—its middle legs work like oars, the hind legs act like rudders, and the front legs are free to catch its prey. It has been given air-filled "shoes" made of hair that allow it to float.
Another resident of ponds is the brown water bug. This one grasps other water insects in a hug of death while its sharp beak draws out the victim's blood. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she grips her mate tightly and glues the eggs onto his back. Then she leaves him to incubate them in the sun for many days, until the young hatch.
God has made some insects experts at camouflage. The ambush bug is so well hidden by its green and yellow colors that it cannot be seen until it moves. The dead-leaf butterfly is easily seen when flying but looks like a dead leaf when resting. The long-horned grasshopper has wings which look like leaves that have been partly eaten away. There is one variety of the walking stick which has a green-brown body with red, thorn-like growths that make it look like part of a bramble bush.
Certainly insects are among "the weak things of the world" that confound "the mighty." How good to know that "God made...everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:25). Each one was given every perfect detail at the moment He created it.
He had a much greater joy when He brought mankind into the world, for He had His heart of love set on each of us even before the world was made. How sad that many have not responded to that love nor realized that their sins made it necessary for the Savior to die on Calvary. There He bore the sins of all who will admit their guilt and put their trust in Him. How wonderful of God to provide such a way of salvation! Have you accepted His Son, the Lord Jesus, as your Savior?

The Twinkling Firefly

"Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." Acts 15:18
The firefly is a beetle that is fascinating to all of us. Seeing their little lights flashing on for a second or two on warm summer evenings is an interesting experience. They are also sometimes called lightning bugs. Many children who see them like to catch some in a jar so they can watch them up close as they turn their lights on and off. In some tropical areas there are large firefly species, and people keep them in bottles to use for light.
Scientists would like to duplicate this kind of heatless light, because it is much more efficient than electricity. They know how the light is produced, but the chemical reactions, one set to turn on the light and another to turn off the light, are so complex that man has not been able to use them. We should not be surprised at this, because it is a very special reaction created for these insects by God their Creator.
The firefly begins life in the ground; even its eggs have a glow to them. Before it is ready to fly, it develops into a glowworm. You may have seen these shining as they crawl around looking for food.
There is another illuminated insect found in some caves in New Zealand. This little fly, while still in the worm stage, gathers in groups of several thousand on the ceilings of caves and glows in the darkness. After attaching itself to the roof of the cave, a two-foot-long string drops from its mouth with small, sticky balls on it. It waits in the darkness with its taillight glowing, until it feels a victim struggling to get loose from one of the sticky balls. Pulling it up, it eats the victim along with the string. Then it lets down a new string.
There are over 500,000 species of insects throughout the world, and God has made each one different. This variety speaks of His handiwork and never-tiring care over them. All these little creatures, as we see them today, are the same as they were the day they were created thousands of years ago. God designed each one to reproduce after its kind. Furthermore, they always obey His laws without question, and by doing so every need is provided for.
These lighted creatures remind us that the Lord Jesus was announced as the true Light of the world. God has given His people a special kind of light that He also wants displayed. His Word, the Bible, says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16).
It is only when we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith that He brings us "out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). Then we can please Him in our activities and shine out for Him.

How an Enemy of Trees Is Stopped

"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Eph. 6:11
As beautiful, tall and strong as a tree may appear, it has enemies quite capable of killing it. Some of these enemies are very small insects. One persistent little enemy is the bark beetle. It is one of the worst pests of spruce and pine trees in North America.
Usually these beetles come in swarms, boring through cracks in the bark and eventually boring their way into the sapwood. In a healthy tree, these beetles often become submerged in the resin that oozes out of the hole, and then they die. But in weakened and drought-affected trees, there is not enough resin to trap them. Once the beetles reach the vital sapwood, they lay their eggs in their bored tunnels. When the eggs hatch, the larvae continue to feed in the tree.
If there were no way to stop these persistent little insects, there would eventually be no pine or spruce trees left. God has provided protection for these trees by using another insect known as the checkered beetle which can catch the bark beetles in flight and eat them. Not only do checkered beetles kill the bark beetles, they also go into the tunnels the bark beetles have already made. The checkered beetles lay their eggs alongside those of the bark beetles, and when the larvae hatch, they attack and kill the newly hatched bark beetle larvae.
God has also given another friend to the trees—the braconid wasp. In some unknown way, it locates the bark beetle larvae, even though they might be under an inch of bark. This wasp injects its own eggs into the bark beetle's larvae. The eggs soon hatch and these larvae immediately feed on their hosts, which, of course, kill the bark beetle larvae.
The killer beetles remind us of the enemy Satan, who "as a roaring lion, [walks] about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). His attacks are often in some small manner that we may even be aware of, but we say, "That doesn't amount to much; I'm not concerned about it." But what prayerful care we need so that Satan does not get the edge on us.
The only way we can apply the armor of Eph. 6:11 or withstand Satan's attacks is by turning to the Lord Jesus in every testing. "Finally...be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Eph. 6:10). With Him taking our place before our enemy, we can say, "Thanks be to God, which [gives] us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57).

The Amazing Honeybee: Part 1

"How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psa. 119:103
Without the work of the honeybee, the world would soon starve. Its work in pollinating blossoms is essential to the development of many kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains and other plant foods and also the reproduction of many other flowering plants.
The hive of the honeybee is a marvelous example of community living. As many as fifty thousand bees will work together in unity, building a hive of honeycombs made up of hexagonal cells. In one square inch, there are exactly 4.83 cells. How do they make such an exact measurement? No one knows other than God who has created them and given them their unusual skills.
Whether building honeycombs in a hive provided by a beekeeper or in a hollow tree or in any other location, the work always follows the same pattern. Young worker bees produce beeswax in special glands in their bodies. This wax is attached to the ceiling; then, working down, the cells are built one by one all the way to the base. Several groups of bees begin building from different parts of the ceiling, gradually all coming together to make a complete comb. Where the sections join together, the result is still the same—all adjoining cells measure exactly 4.83 to the square inch!
Thousands of bees are busy right now, each adding its tiny bit to what others have started. The walls of the waxen cells, only two or three thousandths of an inch thick, are so fragile that you could easily crush them in your fingers, yet strong enough to support the weight of the comb as well as the weight of the bees working on it.
Once the comb is completed, the workers then turn their attention to making honey which they use as food. The bee fills a special pouch inside its body with nectar from several blossoms. In the pouch, the sugar and nectar are broken down into two simple sugars. After the nectar is deposited in the hive, most of the water in the nectar evaporates and the liquid becomes thick.
Surely we need not ask where these busy workers get the wisdom needed to build these complex homes, nor how they work together in such unity. God, "which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number" (Job 5:9), is the One who has set their ways and kept them in the same pattern since the day He first created them.
As King David thought on God's ways which provide so many benefits to man, he said, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psa. 107:8). But His greatest work of all was on the cross where He became the Savior of sinners. Is He your Savior?

The Amazing Honeybee: Part 2

"How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psa. 119:103
Without the work of the honeybee, the world would soon starve. Its work in pollinating blossoms is essential to the development of many kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains and other plant foods and also the reproduction of many other flowering plants.
The hive of the honeybee is a marvelous example of community living. As many as fifty thousand bees will work together in unity, building a hive of honeycombs made up of hexagonal cells. In one square inch, there are exactly 4.83 cells. How do they make such an exact measurement? No one knows other than God who has created them and given them their unusual skills.
Whether building honeycombs in a hive provided by a beekeeper or in a hollow tree or in any other location, the work always follows the same pattern. Young worker bees produce beeswax in special glands in their bodies. This wax is attached to the ceiling; then, working down, the cells are built one by one all the way to the base. Several groups of bees begin building from different parts of the ceiling, gradually all coming together to make a complete comb. Where the sections join together, the result is still the same—all adjoining cells measure exactly 4.83 to the square inch!
Thousands of bees are busy right now, each adding its tiny bit to what others have started. The walls of the waxen cells, only two or three thousandths of an inch thick, are so fragile that you could easily crush them in your fingers, yet strong enough to support the weight of the comb as well as the weight of the bees working on it.
Once the comb is completed, the workers then turn their attention to making honey which they use as food. The bee fills a special pouch inside its body with nectar from several blossoms. In the pouch, the sugar and nectar are broken down into two simple sugars. After the nectar is deposited in the hive, most of the water in the nectar evaporates and the liquid becomes thick.
Surely we need not ask where these busy workers get the wisdom needed to build these complex homes, nor how they work together in such unity. God, "which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number" (Job 5:9), is the One who has set their ways and kept them in the same pattern since the day He first created them.
As King David thought on God's ways which provide so many benefits to man, he said, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psa. 107:8). But His greatest work of all was on the cross where He became the Savior of sinners. Is He your Savior?

The Lovely Monarch Butterfly: Part 1

"The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in." Psa. 121:8
In early September as days turn cooler, large numbers of beautiful black and orange monarch butterflies begin to gather in flocks. Many of these are in the far eastern provinces of Canada, and others are in Alaska and western Canada. Then, as if by some mysterious signal, each flock takes off in a great cloud that becomes several miles wide and many miles long. They have started a southern migration. Those on the Atlantic Coast are headed for the Gulf Coast areas of Florida and Mexico; most on the Pacific Coast are headed for Pacific Grove, California. Each group has about two thousand miles to cover.
An amazing highlight of these flights is that these butterflies have never made this trip before—there are no parents along to guide them, because they have all died during the summer. How then do these young butterflies know the right time to leave? How do they know where to go? How do these fragile insects have the strength to travel so far, sometimes over mountains and across ocean waters? How can they stay on course in strong winds? None of this could ever happen if it were not for a Divine Power guiding and directing them. Their Creator provided them with the ability to make these migrations when He designed them as part of His wonderful creation. Year after year, He provides every need for them to reach their destinations.
After their arrival, the monarchs spend quiet lives in the warm southern climate, living entirely on nectar from flowers. But as wintertime passes, the urge to return north is evident. Usually during June they migrate northward in great flocks, returning to the areas they left the preceding fall.
It is God who prepares these amazing creatures for their long journeys, and He wants to see you prepared in the right way for your life's journey. The final destination for each of us is not to remain here on earth, but we will enter either heaven or hell when we finish life here on earth. He who "is not willing that any should perish" offers you salvation through faith in Christ and His work on the cross—the requirement for entrance into heaven.
When Christ comes back for those who have accepted Him as Savior, He wants you to be among those who will leave this world "to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17). How sad for those who refuse His offer of salvation to hear those awful words: "Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire" (Matt. 25:41). We urge you to accept His loving offer now, so that you will enter in and be part of those events "which God [has] prepared for them that love Him" (1 Cor. 2:9).
(to be continued)

The Lovely Monarch Butterfly: Part 2

"I will meditate also of all Thy work, and talk of Thy doings....Thou art the God that [does] wonders." Psa. 77:12,14
It is early summer in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and across the continent in Alaska. Great flocks of beautiful orange and black monarch butterflies have just arrived in these areas after a two-thousand-mile flight from warm, southern climates. These are the very same butterflies that had migrated south the previous fall.
The milkweed plant grows in great numbers in these areas. It is one of the few plants that the larvae of these butterflies can eat. The female wastes no time as she flits about, depositing eggs on the underside of the leaves of this plant.
Tiny caterpillars, about one-eighth-inch long, hatch in less than a week. They first eat the egg shell from which they have hatched, and then they eat nothing but milkweed leaves. After about two weeks, they have grown to their full size. These caterpillars are not pretty like their butterfly parents; their skin has yellow, black and white stripes.
The monarch's Creator did not intend them to remain ugly and destructive. After reaching full size, each caterpillar produces a tough silken thread from its mouth which it anchors under a leaf or twig and then suspends itself. Then its final layer of skin splits and peels off, and its exposed body hardens in the air, changing into a pupa. During the next twelve days, a great change takes place. Finally, what is inside works its way out.
You have probably guessed that the ugly caterpillar has changed into a beautiful butterfly with its wings pressed tightly against its sides. It climbs up on a leaf to rest an hour or more while its wings expand and harden. Suddenly, without the help of any lessons or trial flights, it spreads its wings and flies away, a fully grown butterfly. From now on, it feeds only on nectar.
When the weather turns cooler, each butterfly, along with hundreds of thousands more, will leave everything behind for the winter, migrating to southern climates, as outlined in the last article.
The Lord often has object lessons for us in what He has created. The unattractive caterpillar reminds us that our lives begin with no purpose except to be "fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind" (Eph. 2:3). We always try to satisfy these desires with what the world offers. But when God's love reaches our hearts, we learn that by accepting Christ as our Savior we are changed into "a new creature" (2 Cor. 5:17). The butterfly, changed from an ugly caterpillar, has a new appetite for what is sweet. And the believer's appetite should be for the Word of God, which is "sweeter than honey" (Psa. 119:103).

The Exceedingly Wise Ant

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25
Everyone is familiar with ants. They are found in all parts of the world except the North and South poles. Like people, ants do not live alone; they live and work with other ants in groups called colonies.
An ant's life begins as an egg which hatches into a larva. The larva cannot move and has to be fed by adult ants. Eventually the larva spins a cocoon. Adult ants are very protective of these cocoons, taking them to a "nursery room" where they watch over them constantly. If the colony decides to move or if they fear the attack of an enemy, the cocoons are carried to a new home. You may have seen this in a disturbed ant nest and thought they were carrying white eggs. Actually, the eggs are so small they can hardly be seen. Later, when the pupae break out of their cocoons, they are fully developed ants, ready to take their place in the colony.
Most ants have compound eyes with many, many facets, each acting as a separate eye. However, it is the antennae's sense of smell that directs them in finding food, locating other ants or finding their nests. They are also helped by a sensitive touch through the antennae on their heads.
Ants cannot eat solid food. It may look like they are eating bits of food, but they are actually covering it with digestive juices. These juices break down the solids into liquids which they can lap with their tongues. The species called fungus ants chew leaves into pulp which they place in their nests. Fungi live on this moist material, and the ants eat these fungi as their only source of food. Because they need a constant supply, they tend the fungi beds just as a gardener tends his garden.
How have all their abilities and habits come about? God has given them these outstanding qualities, and we may be sure He watches over and cares for them. Do you think He would like us to find an object lesson in their busy and industrious lives? I think so since he does not look with favor on idleness and has told us, "If any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thess. 3:10). Ants don't loaf.
Another Scripture says, "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth" (Lam. 3:27). We should never tire of well-doing and always remember the pattern of the Lord Jesus who "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). But it is a serious thought that your best efforts to do good are of no use if you do not know the Lord Jesus as your very own Savior, "for without faith it is impossible to please [God]" (Heb. 11:6).

The Harvester Ants

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest." Prov. 6:6-8
Ants in many areas find abundant food year-round and do not need to store it. But many ants do store food, among them the harvester ants. They use seeds as their main source of food, but also add termites and other insects to their diet.
To be sure they have enough to eat in the months when food becomes scarce, these ants "provideth [their] meat in the summer, and gathereth [their] food in the harvest" (Prov. 6:5). They collect seeds and store them in special chambers within their nests. Certain workers are assigned to this specific duty. When the seeds are brought to the nest, the husks are removed and carried outside to a garbage pile. If any of the stored seeds begin to spoil or sprout, they are immediately removed. If some seeds become damp, the ants promptly take them outside to dry in the sun. When dry, they are brought back into storage. This food supply is guarded very carefully, and the ants do not rob the store while there is still food to be had outside.
Since the ants are not able to swallow solid food, God has given them a means of changing dry seeds into what is known as "ant bread." This is produced by first chewing the seeds, then making a little pile of this chewed food and covering it with juices from their digestive systems. This makes it liquid enough to sip.
All of this, of course, is God's order for these little creatures, which He refers to as being "exceeding wise." The Word of God uses them as an example for ourselves, telling us also to prepare for the future. There is more meaning for us in such a lesson than only storing up food to eat. God urges us to think of a coming eternity and to prepare for it now, before the "summer" of our lives is past.
The sorrow of those who fail to prepare for an eternity in heaven is heard in the awful cry, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved [for heaven]!" (Jer. 8:20). Do not let this be your cry. You must realize that you are a sinner and in need of a Savior. By faith you have to accept Jesus' work on Calvary's cross and His precious blood that he shed there to wash away your sins "while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13).

Janitor Ants and Their Guards

"Blessed be the Lord my strength... my shield, and He in whom I trust." Psa. 144:1-2
There are thousands of kinds of ants throughout the world. There is something interesting about each kind and the way the Lord God, their Creator, takes care of them.
Janitor ants have very clean habits and make strong, comfortable nests. Some ants in their colonies are larger and stronger and act as guards. They keep intruders from entering the nest. They are ready to die, if necessary, to protect the colony.
These guards do not go out on the warpath like army ants; they are soldiers ready to serve in a very unusual way. When making a nest, the entrances are carved by the busy little workers into just the shape and size of a guard ant's head. Once the nest is occupied, the guard takes up his position as a moveable door for this entrance. He stands with the front part of his head plugging the hole, and the rest of his head and body in the nest. His eyes are exposed so he can see everything that approaches. Actually, his head looks so much like the
nest that it would be difficult for an enemy to find any of the entrances. Even if it did and tried to enter, it would have a fierce guard to fight off.
Of course, the colony ants have to work outside during the daytime. When they return, they give the guard the "secret password" by brushing antennae together. The guard backs away and lets them in and then immediately returns to his post.
There is more than one species of ant that uses this same method of protection. In the nests of some others, the guard does not back out of the entrance to let friends in. Instead, he crouches down and lets them crawl over the top of his head. Sometimes when an ant is too big to come in that way, the guard comes out of the nest headfirst, lets the ant through, and then backs up into its position again.
Our beginning Bible verse tells us of King David's complete trust in the Lord as his shield against his enemies. How wise it is to follow the advice of the Bible when it instructs: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding" (Prov. 3:5).
The janitor ants seem quite safe and secure with faithful guards protecting them. However, there are times when they cannot keep the colony from danger in spite of their best efforts. But for every boy and girl there is eternal safety in God's promise: "Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Prov. 29:25). The Lord Jesus confirmed this in His own words to those who love Him: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5). Are you trusting in Him for all things?

Let's Talk About Spiders: Part 1

"The spider [takes] hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces." Prov. 30:28
While most of us don't particularly care for spiders, they are an interesting example of how God "hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise" (1 Cor. 1:27), because no one fully understands how spiders function.
Have you ever watched a spider spinning its web? You may wonder where the silk thread comes from. It comes from silk glands in its abdomen. The liquid silk is forced through its spinnerets as the spider moves. Most spiders have two to six spinnerets, each with a different opening. These produce the different kinds of silk needed. For instance, when the spider needs a dragline for lifting itself up and down, it uses a spinneret that makes a coarse, strong silk. When making its web, an entirely different type of silk is required, and it uses other spinnerets. It also produces cottony silk for holding and hiding its eggs. Some silk glands produce liquid silk that becomes dry outside the body, while others produce sticky silk that remains sticky. All spiders spin silk, but not all spiders make webs.
How did the spider learn to use the correct spinneret for a certain kind of silk? How did it learn to use two spinnerets at the same time when it needs extra-strong silk? How can it travel with ease over sticky silk that will trap everything else?
The spider, lurking at one side of its web, waits for vibrations to signal that something is caught in the web. If the vibrations are very light, it ignores them. But medium vibrations mean food, so it hurries across the web to kill and eat the victim. However, if the vibrations are strong, it means something too large to handle is out there, and the spider will quickly cut the victim loose before it ruins the web. How does the spider know how to interpret these signals?
Here is the answer to all of these questions. Spiders did not have to "learn" how to make a web or where to place it. When the Lord God created them, He gave them these remarkable skills. These skills are often called instincts, and these enable them to live their remarkable lives.
If the Lord God has such interest and care over these little creatures which are here today and gone tomorrow, how much greater is His concern for every boy and girl to whom He has given an everlasting soul. He tells us, "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. 31:3). This wonderful love caused Him to go to the cross to die, "the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). Have you accepted that work in faith and made Him your Savior?

Let's Talk About Spiders: Part 2

"I will speak of the glorious honor of Thy majesty, and of Thy wondrous works." Psa. 145:5
In our discussion about spiders last week, we learned that all spiders spin silk, but not all spiders make webs. Each species of spider has a different life story.
The first spider we'll look at is the bola spider which catches its dinners by "fishing." Instead of spinning a web, it produces one long thread with a drop of sticky silk on the end. It sits on a branch and drops this line down, swinging it back and forth until an insect flies into the sticky ball. Then it pulls up the thread, like reeling in a fishing line, and eats its meal.
The triangle spider spins a three-sided web between two twigs, with a tail hanging down from the bottom. The spider holds tightly to this tail to keep the web open. The moment an insect touches the triangle, the spider lets go of the tail, and the web springs like a trap and captures the victim.
Any female spider may mistake the male for prey and eat him. However, males have ways of guarding against this. If a male wishes to make friends with a female, he vibrates the edge of her web with one of his feet. The female is immediately alerted. If she is hungry, she crosses the web, and that's a signal for the male to make a quick exit. But if the female remains quiet, he senses she has already eaten and he goes to her, sometimes taking a little present. However, he never stays long or he will have to pay for his visit with his life. This is why one species is known as the black widow, because she almost always kills and eats her mate.
Flying spiders point their abdomens toward the sky and spin webs that act like parachutes. When the wind catches one of these, the spider holds on tightly, and off it flies on a real adventure. Sometimes they are lifted thousands of feet in the air and are carried over oceans and mountains before landing.
The crab spider hides in a flower and waits for an insect to land and then captures it. It not only looks like a miniature crab, it can walk backwards and sidewards like a crab. Some crab spiders change their color to match the flower they are hiding in.
The many spiders all over the world and their amazing ways remind us of the wonders of God's creation. They show us that the little things, as well as the big things of life, are all under His watchful care. It is well for us to remember that we are also under His care, and that "the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Prov. 15:3).

Let's Talk About Spiders: Part 3

"All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." John 1:3
With more than 40,000 species of spiders in the world, there is a wealth of interesting detail to investigate. Here are a few spiders that do not spin webs.
The dune wolf makes its home in a sand tunnel and comes out to catch its food on the ground. The trap-door spider builds a tunnel in the ground, cementing the walls with glue and lining them with silk to make a cozy home. Over the opening, it makes a hinged door that opens and shuts as it comes and goes.
One of the most amazing is the water spider. It can walk or run on water but lives most of its life underwater in a silken nest. Working from a twig or stem above the water, it first forms a bell-shaped, air-tight balloon from its silk. It carries this down into the water and anchors it solidly. The spider keeps a large air bubble trapped in the top of the balloon so that it can breathe while it catches underwater insects. It can live on this air bubble for several months.
The fisher spider also gets its food from the water, but this one lives out in the open air. Although unable to swim, it can walk on the water because of hairy patches on its legs that hold air and make it buoyant. It chases insects on the surface but will dive down if something looks interesting below.
You might wonder how a spider could dive underwater and not drown. The secret is that it takes in air through the lower part of its abdomen. When ready to dive, it traps a bubble of air under its hairy body, and with this it can breathe underwater for a long time. You would think the air bubble would make the spider float to the surface. However, the spider dives directly to some solid object where it hangs on with its legs and waits for a victim to swim by. It has been observed catching minnows and piercing them with poison before taking them to shore to eat.
Spiders are very beneficial to mankind, disposing of many flies, mosquitoes and other harmful insects. They all tell of God's wonderful plan in creation and the way He has provided for the individual needs of each one of them.
But more important than all this is what God says of you and me: "I have created him for My glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him" (Isa. 43:7). But we cannot be to His glory unless we are His children through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you, through faith, accepted Him as your very own Savior?

The Ant Lion

"Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8
The ant lion, sometimes called the doodlebug, looks like a large dragonfly when fully grown. The name "ant lion" comes from its activity in its larval stage. As a larva, it has a special appetite for ants. An ant caught in its jaws will not be able to escape, because the ant lion has strong jaws, which are the largest part of its body.
The ant lion has an interesting way of catching ants. It digs a cone-shaped pit about two inches deep in sand or loose soil. This trap looks like a miniature volcano. It buries itself at the bottom of the pit, leaving only its jaws and part of its head exposed.
An ant coming to this pit is curious and goes to the edge to look inside. On the rim it loses its footing in the loose sand and falls down the steep side. It tries again and again to climb back up the sides, but the surface is too loose and it finally slides to the bottom. The ant lion quickly grabs it in its sickle-shaped jaws and makes a meal of it. The ant lion sometimes attracts ants to the pit by throwing sand or little pieces of gravel into the air.
We might wonder how this little creature knows how to build its trap and how to attract its victims. The larva knows how to do this just as soon as it hatches, without having had a lesson or having learned by watching others. This is another example of an instinct given by the Creator to enable His creatures to survive through immature periods of their lives.
The ant lion's methods remind us of the great enemy of our souls, Satan, who has many traps set to catch us. One of these is a natural curiosity on our part to want to explore things of the world that only lead to sin and unhappiness. The Bible tells us that Satan is the god of this world, and we can never stand up against him in our own power.
However, there is One who is mightier than Satan, the Savior of all who trust in Him. "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). He has provided an armor that allows us to stand against this wicked enemy. Those who know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior are urged to "put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." This armor includes the "shield of faith," the "helmet of salvation," and the "sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." (See Eph. 6:11-17.)
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are a servant to sin and Satan. You need to find an escape from his trap. Escape is only by turning to Christ, confessing that you are a sinner and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior. You will find Him ready and able to release you from Satan's grasp.

The Musical Cricket

"God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good." Gen. 1:25
For its small size the male cricket is a very noisy insect whose chirps can be heard a mile away on a quiet night. These sounds are made in much the same way as a musician playing a violin. The upper surface of each wing is equipped with a scraper. This is drawn over the lower part of the wing that has a hundred or more rough crossridges. By moving its wings, the chirp sound is made. This "music" is the way the Creator designed crickets to "talk" with one another.
Toward the end of summer, the female cricket makes a hole in the soil about an inch deep and deposits about three hundred little, banana-shaped eggs. The young crickets hatch the following spring and immediately begin searching for dead insects or tender plants to eat.
As the young cricket grows, its outer skeleton splits open and drops off. This is called molting, and it is repeated sometimes a dozen times. When the final molt takes place, the wings and other parts of the body are fully developed. The common, black or field cricket is about an inch long when it emerges from its final molt. It has two long antennae at the front of its head that act as feelers. The cricket is able to fly but seldom does, preferring to move over the ground by jumping, like its cousin the grasshopper. Mature crickets (which do not live through the winter) live a short but busy life, eating a variety of things. They prefer tender, juicy plants, often doing great damage to farmers' crops. However, they also move into houses and other buildings, eating clothing and bookbindings.
In cold weather crickets chirp less, and in hot weather they chirp more. Do you want to know what the temperature is? They say that if you count the chirps for 15 seconds, then add 40, you will have the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees. Try it sometime.
Crickets represent part of God's creation and have their place among all that He has made. He has not only provided special features for their way of life, but He also watches over them, providing for all their needs.
What does the Bible say about His care over you? Acts 17:24-25 says, "God that made the world and all things therein... [gives] to all [people] life, and breath, and all things." And in Rom. 8:31-32 these wonderful words appear: "If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
Have you ever thanked Him for His wonderful gifts to you?

The Pesky Mosquito

"Unto Adam [God] said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake." Gen. 3:17
The week of constant rain has formed pools of water in ditches and other low spots. It has collected in the bottom of old tires and in empty cans along the roadsides. Standing water is where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
It only takes a day or two for a mosquito egg to hatch into a wriggler. It has a head on one end and a siphon for breathing on the other. It immediately begins to wriggle from the bottom of its watery home to the top. It takes in air with its siphon and then drops back to the bottom and repeats this cycle over and over. A wriggler eats small plants and small animals that live in the water.
After about a week, a wriggler changes into a thin-shelled pupa. It does not eat. In two to four days it is ready to shed its skin and become a fully developed adult mosquito. While in the pupa stage, it develops a breathing system that looks like tiny portholes along its body.
Rising to the surface, the skin on the pupa's back splits open. It then pumps air into its body through the portholes. This causes it to expand, making the opening wider. It soon pushes its head and front legs out and then pulls the rest of its body from the shell. The veins of its wings expand and open. It rests for a day on its floating shell, allowing its newly exposed body to harden. Then it takes off with the familiar hum of its wings. Another marvel of God's creation has been completed!
But not all eggs become mosquitoes. Many wrigglers become food for fish, ducks, frogs, turtles and other creatures. In Alaska young salmon eat them by the millions.
Only the female mosquitoes seek the blood of humans and animals. Inside her dagger-like beak, called a proboscis, are six needle-like stylets that stab into the skin to sip enough blood to satisfy her appetite.
Certainly mosquitoes are a problem for man and animal, but God has provided these remarkable little creatures to fulfill a place in the chain of life. The swelling and itch of a mosquito bite are reminders that sin has left its mark on all creation, marring it in many ways. Its loveliness will not be restored until a time to come when the Bible says the Lord Jesus Christ shall be acknowledged as "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Tim. 6:15).
Before that time all who have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior will be called to heaven where He lives and where no sin will ever mar its wonders or the joy of those who are there. Will you be there?

Not All Flies Are Bad

"There came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt." Ex. 8:24
The swarm of flies sent by the Lord was one of the ways in which Pharoah was punished for refusing to let the Israelites worship the Lord. It must have been a terrible experience, because the housefly is a nasty pest and a carrier of diseases.
But not all flies are filthy and harmful, and many species are actually helpful. One of these has a long name—larvavaridea, also called the flying hedgehog. Its activities are entirely different from the housefly, but they look alike and are frequently killed as a result.
The flying hedgehog has clean habits and does not visit the filthy places preferred by houseflies. Unlike the housefly, it does not lay eggs but gives birth to live maggots. These are laid on leaves of plants that are eaten by caterpillars. The maggot is so tiny that the caterpillar does not see it and swallows it when eating the leaf. Unharmed, the maggot passes into the caterpillar and eats its tissues, finally killing it. The maggot soon transforms into an adult fly and is ready to produce more of its kind. As an adult, it is no hazard to people's health. Its food is not decayed matter and garbage. Instead, it eats the nectar of flowers. As it gathers this nectar, it helps in the pollination of flowers and fruit.
Another good fly, but with a bad-sounding name, is called the robber fly. It has spiny legs and a sharp beak. Perching on a stone or piece of wood until an insect comes along, it suddenly darts out and catches it in its hairy legs. Then it carries the insect back to its perch to eat. There are more than five thousand kinds of robber flies throughout the world, and all help mankind by destroying harmful insects.
Another interesting fly is the ichneumon, a very small fly. The female has a long ovipositor on the end of her abdomen. Using this, she pierces aphids and lays her eggs inside. When the eggs hatch out, the little grubs eat the aphid. They are also destroyers of the harmful horntail fly, which kills trees by tunneling in them.
There are many other "good" flies. How they destroy harmful pests is another evidence of God's goodness in keeping mankind from being overwhelmed by bad flies.
But He is good to us in even more important ways than this. We are told in Joel 2:13, "Turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful." In Rom. 2:4 we are warned not to despise "the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." Yes, the Savior wants you to find out and see that He is good. Will you come to Him today?

A Living Bomb

"God made... everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind." Gen. 1:25
A strange beetle called the bombardier beetle baffles scientists. It bombs its enemies with a bad-smelling, boiling-hot fluid that it shoots out by an explosion inside its body. Scientists know what chemicals make up this fluid, but they cannot figure out how the beetle controls its exploding.
The bombardier has two chambers inside its body where the chemicals it manufactures are stored. It also has another part where it mixes them. Before mixing, it adds a third chemical called an inhibitor. This mixes with the first two chemicals to keep them from exploding. These mixed chemicals are stored in its body until needed.
As long as the inhibitor is present, the "bomb" cannot go off. But this little insect, in one of the many wonders of God's creation, can "explode" this bomb whenever it wants. The beetle makes sure it is in front of its enemy. Then it forces the chemical mixture into a final chamber where a liquid from another part of its body is present. This liquid overcomes, or inactivates, the inhibitor, causing the whole mixture to explode with a definite "bang." It is discharged through a special nozzle in this chamber with considerable force. It either kills its enemy or chases it away. It is so well equipped with ammunition that it can explode this mixture ten to twenty times before running out. Then, within a day, its tanks refill.
How did this beetle get its storage tanks? When did it learn about making the chemicals and how to mix them without blowing up itself? Who taught it how to make the explosion at the right time? Could we believe the theory of some who claim that these things just happened? Or could we believe that the beetle added one part at a time over millions of years? No. Such teaching is not only unreasonable, it is also contrary to God's Word, the Bible. It can easily be seen that any bombardier beetle that did not have all its functions working together correctly would destroy itself before it could make necessary changes.
The Lord God, the divine Creator, designed the bombardier beetle and made it complete with its amazing features when He first placed it on the earth. Scripture tells us, "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He" (Psa. 135:6). All His wonderful works show the pleasure He had in creating them. The many varieties also show us His unlimited power and wisdom.
But we should pay attention to another Bible verse that says, "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding" (Psa. 119:73). When the Lord God made mankind, He had a special purpose in mind. It is His delight to give understanding to every person concerning His love. God gives everlasting life to all who love His Son and trust in Him as the Savior of sinners.

A Woodland Grave Digger

"The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat in due season." Psa. 145:15
When you are in a field or camping in a wooded area, do you ever wonder why it's rare to see a dead animal or dead bird? One reason is that many of them are eaten by other animals and birds. But there is another quite interesting reason why many small dead creatures disappear.
The sexton beetle, also called the burying beetle, is a little undertaker. It is about 1 to 12 inches long and is black with bright orange markings on its wings. This active little insect's sensitive antennae detect the odor of a dead mouse, bird, snake or other dead creature. Finding the carcass, it inspects it carefully with its feelers before it begins digging a grave.
It crawls under the carcass first, going back and forth, from front to back, apparently measuring it. Then it leaves and explores the surface of the ground nearby, occasionally returning to look over the carcass. It finds a suitable area and digs several holes, loosening the soil and carrying it off to one side. This is the start of the grave digging.
It returns to the animal and begins heaving and tugging the carcass towards this grave. Having moved it an inch or so, it looks over the carcass again and returns to enlarge the hole. Then back to the carcass and soon off again to make the hole a little bigger. This process goes on for several hours.
As other sexton beetles are attracted to this activity, he chases away all males. But if a female shows up, he allows her to help him push and pull the carcass towards the hole. After several hours, they get it to the edge, then they push the carcass into the hole and dirt is scraped back in to cover it. They leave one side uncovered where the female lays eggs. While waiting for the eggs to hatch, the parents feed on the carcass.
After the newly hatched grubs appear, the adults feed them from the carcass until they can care for themselves. The parents leave, but they have made tunnels in the soil so the grubs can find their way to the surface after they mature and become grave diggers themselves.
Isn't this an interesting way in which the Creator has arranged for the disposal of dead bodies that otherwise would become very unpleasant? It is another example of His wisdom in all that He has created. But He has done something far greater than this. His death on Calvary has atoned for the sins of all who trust in Him, so they can share heaven with Him for eternity.
Are you included in those who have come to Him, admitting you need to be cleansed from your sins and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior?

The Paper-Making Wasp

"How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out." Rom. 11:33
In the sunny days of early spring, the queen paper-making wasp comes out of hibernation to build a paper nest. She usually attaches it under the eaves of a house or other building. This wasp is equipped with strong jaws which she uses to chew old wood into a soft pulp. This pulp, mixed with the juices in her mouth, produces a product much like the paper used to make newspaper. She constructs the nest with this material.
Before making the part of the nest that is lived in, the queen cements a stem of the same material onto the underside of the eave. Then she begins building the nest, starting from the underside of the stem. She forms cells into rings that grow wider and wider, until the nest is completed. Some nests are up to six inches wide. As each six-sided cell is added, an egg is laid inside and cemented in place. The queen also deposits a little ball of nectar inside each cell. It is attached next to the egg to provide food for the larva after it hatches.
The wasp continues her work day after day, making paper for the cells and laying her eggs in the cells. After the larva hatches from the egg, it remains attached to the side of the cell by its tail because it is not ready to fly. By the time the larva finishes the ball of nectar, it is ready for bigger things to eat. The queen and her workers then chew up cabbage worms and other insects and feed this to the larva. Thus large numbers of harmful insects are destroyed by these helpful wasps. In addition to food, water is brought to the larva by the worker wasps. In hot weather the workers also cool the nest by fanning with their wings and sometimes spraying it with water from their mouths.
Soon the larva is big enough to fill the cell. It then spins a cap over the opening of its cell, forming a cocoon. Later it breaks through this and comes out as a fully developed wasp.
We may wonder at the abilities of these little creatures. Who taught them to manufacture "paper" and form it into nests? How does the queen know how to cement the eggs and nectar into place? And how does she know when to put aside her nest-building and get food for her little ones? How do the larvae know how to spin their cocoons and cover the cells while going through the final process of becoming mature wasps?
Their ability to do these things did not come from experiments or a gradual development. It came from God, the Creator of all things, who "giveth to all life, and breath." Yes, His ways are "past finding out." How wonderful to know Him not only as the Creator, but more importantly, to know Him as your very own Lord and Savior.

The Lacewing Fly

"The glory of the Lord shall endure forever: the Lord shall rejoice in His works." Psa. 104:31
Only about one-half inch long, the lacewing is a pretty little fly with transparent wings in pale shades of green. It is a real friend to farmers.
When laying eggs, the female first deposits a spot of "glue" on a branch or stem of a bush. Before this hardens, she flips her tail upward, producing a long, thread-like stalk. The stalk quickly becomes tough and hard, and she repeats this process time after time. Then she places an egg on the end of each stalk, spacing them far enough apart so they will not eat each other when they hatch, since they are vicious, hungry little larvae.
In about a week, the larva appears. Cutting its way out of the egg, it slides down the smooth stalk, using its tail as a brake. The mother fly has arranged her nest of eggs close to where aphids are feeding on a plant. These aphids become food for the larva for about two weeks; then it is ready for a change. Attaching itself to the underside of a leaf, it spins a thread of white silk, wrapping itself in a cocoon where it will undergo a twelve-day change.
While in the cocoon, the larva develops specially designed cutting jaws. Using these, it slices around the top of its cocoon, leaving a small section as a hinge and anchor post. Pushing the lid open, it crawls out and spins another thread on which it dangles from the anchor. Soon its veins fill with blood, the wings dry, and it has become a full-grown lacewing fly. Now it returns to what it does best—eating aphids for the rest of its life. As it does this, it becomes a friend to farmers by helping protect their crops from these harmful pests.
It is interesting to see how the mother lacewing makes such careful preparations for her young: first by making the eggs look like part of a plant, and then by placing them where they will immediately find food when they come out of the eggs. It is another example of how God has given instincts to His creatures so they may fill their part in His total plan of creation.
God's ways with you and me are far more important than with these insects. He has given us a conscience to remind us that we are sinners and need a Savior. In addition, He has given us hearts and minds capable of receiving this loving Savior, and it is through Him and His death on the cross that we can enter heaven. He tells us, "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). Have you accepted this wonderful gift?

The Friendly Ladybird Beetle

"O Lord, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast done wonderful things." Isa. 25:1
How often have you watched a pretty little ladybird beetle (or ladybug), with its orange-red body covered with black polka dots, crawl over your finger and said: "Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home; your house is on fire, your children will burn"? Of course, we really wouldn't want her children to burn, because these insects are one of man's best friends.
These colorful beetles save growers millions of dollars every year. All the tiny insects they eat on citrus trees is one of our greatest benefits. Another is in the control of the Colorado potato bug, which is a serious pest all over North America. They also eat aphids, as well as many other plant-eating insects.
The female lays up to two hundred eggs, depositing them in cracks of bark or under leaves in areas where aphids live. When the larvae hatch, they immediately devour the aphids. After a few weeks of eating at a great rate, a larva reaches full size. God-given instinct tells it to attach itself by its tail to the underside of a leaf where it forms a shiny chrysalis. Later it emerges as a fully developed ladybug, able to fly from one place to another, eating harmful insects in great quantities.
Our pretty friend has been provided with two unusual means of escape from its enemies. It can produce a foul-smelling fluid that makes it unattractive to its enemy. If this fails, it can "play possum," and the would-be captor, thinking it is dead, will often leave it alone.
In late autumn the ladybugs hibernate, some going into buildings and some under the bark of dead trees or other sheltered places. In the western states, millions of them fly long distances to the mountains and hide in the rocks. One group was estimated to contain 750 million! In the mountains, the dormant ladybugs are hunted by collectors and shoveled into sacks to be refrigerated until spring. Then they are sold to orchardists and farmers, who are happy to buy them to place among their trees and plants.
God, who created these helpful little creatures, uses them so wonderfully to aid mankind. It should make us wonder in what way we may serve Him? The Psalmist said, "Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves" (Psa. 100:2-3). The Lord Himself invites us to serve Him. He has said, "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor" (John 12:26). If we know Him as our very own Lord and Savior, it is a real privilege to serve Him.

The Cicada Killer

"I will meditate also of all Thy work, and talk of Thy doings." Psa. 77:12
In July and August the shrill chorus of many singing cicadas can be very annoying. The noise goes on steadily with no break until suddenly, as if by a signal, they stop for a few moments and there is silence. But soon they are singing again.
While the cicadas are singing, female wasps, called cicada killers, are hunting them. After finding a cicada, the wasp plunges her stinger into its nerve center. This paralyzes the cicada, but it continues to live. Then, firmly grasping it, the wasp tumbles to the ground and turns the cicada on its back so she can pull it head first, like a sled, to one of the many burrows she has dug in the ground. Sometimes the wasp drags the heavy, paralyzed cicada part way up a tree till she can get enough altitude to fly back to her burrow. She may have to repeat this several times before the trip is finished.
When the wasp finally reaches the burrow, she drags the cicada to the bottom where she has already prepared a little room. There she lays an egg and places it under the insect. Then she goes back out to catch another cicada. This process is repeated until two or three cicadas are brought to each burrow and an egg placed under each one. As she exits each burrow, she fills it with dirt.
In a few days the eggs hatch and the larvae begin life by feeding on the paralyzed cicadas. After a week or more of eating this food, the larvae spin cocoons and remain underground through the cold winter. In early summer they change into the pupa stage and shortly break out of the cocoons as adult wasps. Then they have to dig their way out of the dirt-filled burrows. Surprisingly, as full-grown wasps, they no longer eat cicadas, but feed entirely on nectar. Cicadas are captured only when the female wasps need to provide food for the next generation.
How does the female wasp know where to place her stinger to paralyze, but not kill, her victim? How does she know to place an egg under a paralyzed cicada so the larva will have food for its start in life? Who taught the young wasp to dig its way out of the burrow? We know that these instincts are given by God who created and cares for them.
But have you stopped to think that His provisions for us are much more wonderful? He gives us life and sustains it day by day. He also gives eternal life to all those who accept the salvation He offers. Salvation is provided through faith in His beloved Son, Christ Jesus, who died on Calvary's cross for us. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). Have you accepted this invitation?

The Dragonfly

"All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." John 1:3
The dragonfly is a common sight near water or swampy areas in summer. It is a little scary looking, especially in its darting pattern of flight. Actually, it is harmless and is another example of God's wonderful handiwork.
It has four strong but delicate-looking wings. Since the day of creation it has been able to dart through the air swifter than most birds, with its wings vibrating 1500 times per minute. It can outperform the newest helicopters in hovering, flying forward or backward, up or down, or rapidly changing directions. Unlike most insects, the dragonfly's large head can easily turn to help it spot insects, which it eats in flight. Each of its enormous, compound eyes has approximately 30,000 lenses, giving it excellent vision. It can see ahead, behind, above and below, all at the same time!
The dragonfly (sometimes called the devil's darning needle) begins its life as a nymph in the bottom of a stream or pond. It creeps along the bottom and eats nearly anything that moves, including mosquito wrigglers, tiny minnows and tadpoles. It moves very slowly, but can spurt water through its body in a jet-propulsion manner, giving it extra speed in an emergency. Most nymphs remain underwater one or two years, but some remain up to five years.
When ready for its adult change, it creeps out of the water at the shoreline and becomes an air-breather for the first time. Resting in the warm sun, its skin splits open and a new creature comes out—no longer an ugly nymph, but a fully developed dragonfly. Its wings soon unfold, but a few hours are necessary for them to dry and harden before it can fly. It is defenseless during those hours and is a tempting meal for birds and small animals.
Finally it takes to the air, with no lessons or trial flights. Traveling through the air at rapid speeds, its legs form a scoop-like net in which it catches its victims and transfers them to its strong jaws. A dragonfly's appetite is huge, eating the equivalent of its own weight in 30 minutes when food is available. It prefers mosquitoes and so is a beneficial insect.
From the smallest microbe to the great whales, the Creator, the Lord God of heaven and earth, is always aware of the needs of each one. "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18).
Those who teach that life "just happened" and that it took millions of years for living things to reach their present form, deny that God made everything to reproduce "after his kind." The Bible warns, "Put not your trust in...man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to [the] earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." Then it says, "Happy is he...whose hope is in the Lord his God: which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is" (Psa. 146:3-6). Do you know this happiness through faith in Him?

Termites and Their Ways

"Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee...the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee." Psa. 139:12
The 2000 species of termites are found throughout the world. These insects live in large colonies in dark places and never come out into the open, except when swarming to establish new colonies. There are three classes of termites in their colonies: workers, reproducers and soldiers.
The workers, along with the baby nymphs, form the largest part of the colony. They never leave the nest, even at swarming time. Their lives are spent tunneling and feeding on wood. They digest the wood and feed it to the king, queen, babies and soldiers, all of which cannot feed themselves.
The queen's responsibility is to provide eggs to keep the colony growing. Soon after mating she swells up with eggs until she is much larger than the workers. In fact, this load of eggs is so great that she has to finally settle down in her royal chamber where she will stay the rest of her life, producing millions of eggs during that time.
The workers stand by to take the eggs as soon as they are laid. They lick each one clean before placing it in the nursery area. It takes many months for the eggs to hatch and the young termites to fully develop. During development, the nymphs are blind and helpless. They could not survive if the workers did not take care of them by constantly bringing them food to eat.
Most of the soldiers have large, armored heads and fiercely attack enemies. Standing guard over the nest, they often plug the entrances with their heads to keep intruders out. If danger appears they make sharp noises, calling other soldiers to help them.
Termites usually live where it is dark and moist, because they cannot survive under other conditions. Where it is necessary to cross exposed areas, they make tunnels of mud. These are built by special soldiers who have the ability to produce a liquid cement for holding the mud in place.
In Australia a species known as "compass termites" builds nests up to 20 feet above ground. The sides of these nests always face east and west, with the ends pointing north and south. Lost travelers have found their way by using these nests as compasses. Since these nests are exposed to the hot sun, the termites build ventilating flues in them to maintain a constant, cool temperature.
These creatures, seeking dark places and hiding their activities, remind us of those persons who "love darkness rather than light." They foolishly think they can hide evil deeds. But the Bible says, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Prov. 15:3). Our opening verse also reminds us of the One from whom nothing can be hidden.
But we are happy to tell you that the Lord Jesus Christ, who knows all the secrets of our hearts, loves us and invites us to come to Him as the Savior of sinners. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

Some More Strange Ones: Chapter 7

"Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in [the heavens] and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places." Psa. 135:6

Three Little Fish

"Thou [the Lord] hast made...the seas, and all that is therein, and Thou preservest them all." Neh. 9:6
The six-inch archer fish lives in East Indian waters and is very clever at catching its food. This little fish waits near the surface of the water until a low-flying insect appears. It then shoots drops of water from its mouth at the insect. If the water hits the insect, its wings become wet so that it cannot fly. When it falls into the water, it is eaten by the archer fish. How did this fish learn to do this? No practice was necessary, for the Creator gave it this skill when He created the very first archer fish on the fifth day of creation.
Instead of laying eggs at the bottom of a marshy pond where it lives, the egg hanger fish hangs them on sticky threads suspended from underwater plants. The female produces one string of this sticky thread for each egg she lays. With the egg firmly stuck to one end, she attaches the other end over the plant so it can hang down freely. She continues until there are about 150 all hanging separately in the swampy water. Then she swims away and does not return.
The eggs don't need her care, for the One "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3) watches over them just as He does when they hatch and swim away.
The splashing tetra is a three-inch fish found in Brazil and Venezuela. When the female is ready to lay her eggs, she searches for a bush with leaves hanging over, but not in, the water. Then she jumps up and lays her eggs on a big leaf before dropping back to the water. Doesn't this seem strange? Wouldn't you expect the eggs to dry out and die? That would certainly be true, except that we can see it is another of the wonders of the Lord God who designed such interesting features in His many creatures.
The eggs don't die because both parents stay in the water under the leaf and, with flips of their tails, continually splash water on them. After three or four days, the little ones hatch and drop into the water. Then the parents swim away.
These unusual fish are not able to think of the One who made them and provides for them. But you can, and God has given you the responsibility to acknowledge Him and thank Him for supplying all your needs. What is more important is that He invites you to accept the everlasting life He offers. The Bible tells us that this can only be yours through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on Calvary's cross to put away the sins of all who trust in Him. Have you accepted Him as your Savior?

Inseparable Companions

"His tender mercies are over all His works." Psa. 145:9
In the deserts of southern United States, the creamy blossoms of the yucca plant are a beautiful sight when they are in bloom. However, this plant would soon become extinct if it were not for the work of a little moth. The moth itself also would not survive if it did not have the yucca plant.
No bees, ants or other insects help fertilize the yucca flower. This is entirely the work of the pronuba moth. The moth seems to know what it has to do. The yucca blossom opens in the evening and is open most of the night. While still daylight the female moth flies to a half-open yucca blossom. When the blossom opens fully at night, she collects a good supply of pollen. Then she forms the pollen into a ball about the size of her head. She tucks it under her chin and goes to another blossom. As she walks up the pistil (the female part of the flower) she deposits several eggs into its hollow center. Then she continues her climb to the top where she deposits the ball of pollen on the top part of the pistil, rubbing it in by pressing her head against it again and again. This pollinates the yucca flower.
After some weeks the flower turns into a pod with a hard shell filled with seeds, with the moth's eggs still inside. The eggs hatch out as tiny caterpillars who use the seeds as their only source of food. Later they chew through the pod, drop to the ground and spin themselves into cocoons. Adult moths eventually comes out of the cocoons at the same time that new flowers are forming on the yucca. And the cycle begins again.
Any other moth would just find a place to lay her eggs and then be on her way. Why does the pronuba moth collect pollen from one flower, then change to another flower before laying her eggs, and finally, depositing the ball of pollen so necessary to the life cycle of the yucca? Certainly, all this is not by chance. A Supreme Power has told the little moth what to do.
Some may say this is only instinct and the little moth obeys those instincts, but it is the Lord God who gave the pronuba moth the necessary instincts when He created the first one. How serious to realize that man has been given an intelligence much higher than instinct, but is walking in his own way away from God. The Bible says of man, "When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Rom. 1:21-22).
The Spirit of God pleads with everyone to "[cast] down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and [bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Are you submitting to God, the Creator of everything?

Eggs on the Ocean

"For the Lord is a great God... the sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land." Psa. 95:3,5.
Every October and November the Samoan Islanders receive a supply of food from the ocean which they consider a great treat. In each of those months this food comes at sunrise, exactly one day before the last quarter of the new moon and also the following day. Just three days before this there is a great migration of land crabs marching from the mountains to the sea to spawn, so the natives have this double notice to get ready to collect this treat.
The treat is the eggs of the eighteen-inch palolo worm. They live at the bottom of the ocean, hidden in rocks and coral. At these two months of the year they back out of their burrows and break themselves in two. The hind part rises to the surface to lay great numbers of eggs, and the front part goes back to its underwater home. By the second day the whole area is afloat with these eggs. The natives eagerly collect as many of them as possible.
What an amazing performance this is! Do you think the crabs and worms are watching the moon or looking at calendars? No, they simply follow the guidance of their Creator in ways we cannot understand.
Species of the palolo worm go through similar activities in the waters around Japan, the Fiji Islands, the Gulf of Mexico and other places in the Pacific. Some are active at the same time as those near the Samoan Islands, but many are active at different times of the year.
How do these interesting residents of the ocean know just the right days to make an appearance? What controls them so that they all leave their nests at the same time? It is God who has given them the instinct and living patterns suited exactly to their needs. That is why they know the exact hours and days to leave their underwater homes. The Lord God, who "upholds all things by the Word of His power," watches over them with real care to see that they carry out their appointed role among His created things.
If the Lord of all creation cares for the palolo worm, we know He cares much more for us. Have we not proved that "His compassions fail not. They are new every morning"? Lam. 3:22,23. But more than this-He has given mankind an everlasting soul and an invitation to spend eternity in heaven with Him.
But our sins will keep us from heaven, unless we accept the redeeming work of Christ, taking God's judgment on Himself, to account for the sins of all who trust in His shed blood. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." 1 Peter 3:18. Have you admitted that you are a sinner and accepted Him as your own Savior?

Snails Can Be Beautiful

"He hath made everything beautiful in His time." Eccl. 3:11
Most of us do not think of snails as being beautiful, but only as pests in our gardens. It is true that many things in God's creation outwardly appear ugly to us, but God sees an inward beauty in them, sometimes visible to us only under a microscope.
Even the common garden snail has a rather pretty spiral house on its back. The outside of its shell is skin-like, the middle is much thicker, and the inside is coated with a thin, smooth, shiny surface. This shell has been designed by the Creator to provide a safe, comfortable home.
Among the thousands of kinds of snails in the world, some live on land, others live in water, and many spend their lives in trees. A number have very beautiful, valuable shells which some people collect. These include shells from some marine species with beautiful knobs, ridges and spirals. Among these beauties are the cowrie and olive varieties which are common in southern waters, and Hawaii and other Pacific islands have many tree snails with very pretty markings.
When the common garden snail hatches from its underground egg, it is fully formed, complete with a paper-thin tiny shell. It must immediately find food. Although it has poor eyesight, the Creator gave it a keen sense of smell which it uses to find what it needs. Working usually at night, its tiny tongue, which is covered with thousands of little hooks and sharp teeth, makes quick work of destroying tender plants and flowers. This is one reason why gardeners find them to be a real pest.
Another objection to snails is that they leave sticky and unsightly trails behind them. This trail, made by mucus from glands in a snail's body, makes a soft cushion which is elastic, moist and so tough that it can crawl over the sharp edge of a razor blade and not be cut! It has been supplied by the Creator to protect the soft, tender underparts of the snail from the dry, rough surfaces it crawls over.
But not everything about snails is objectionable. Some people consider certain kinds as very good food. The shells of brightly colored snails are made into jewelry, buttons and other decorative objects. Also, there is one called the decollete which, instead of eating plants, kills and eats garden snails. This one is a real friend to gardeners.
Can it be that the Lord God cares about little creatures like snails? We are sure He does, for the Bible tells us that "the Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works. All Thy works shall praise Thee, O Lord" (Psa. 145:9-10).
But more than this, He has a special care for each person who has accepted Him as his very own Lord and Savior and has trusted in His work on Calvary's cross to take away his sins. Of these He says, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" (John 10:27-28). Is He your Good Shepherd?

A Lovely Snail - the Conch

"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight." Heb. 4:13.
Perhaps the most beautiful of all snails is one that is not usually thought of as being a snail. It is the queen conch, whose shell is a valued prize. You possibly have one in your home. It is marvelously shaped and beautifully colored in creamy pink, mixed with rose or tan. The wide end of the main shell is worth examining, too. It has large, star-shaped spikes circling it, followed to a point by smaller ones. And the fan-like "lip" is lovely with its pretty colors.
No one but the Lord God, the Creator of all, could design such a beautiful home for such a lowly creature. The shell is secreted from a part of the conch's body that forms calcium carbonate. The conch, however, does not need to know, how it does this, nor is it concerned: about forming its own house. The Creator has taken care of all this for it.
Many conches live off Caribbean shores where they eat plants and grasses that grow in shallow water. Their diet also includes algae secured by licking it from small rocks. Conches lie flat on the ocean floor, withdrawn into their shell, except when traveling or eating. When coming out they still remain 1:
attached to their shell. Two long antennae-like stalks appear first, with an eye on the tip of each. Beneath these stalks a snout-like mouth protrudes. Finally its "foot" touches bottom by which it pushes itself along in short hops.
The queen conch lays many eggs in long strings. About a week later little ones, called veligers, hatch already equipped with miniature shells. They swim in the ocean for about three weeks before settling to the bottom to develop mature bodies. Most will grow to be about a foot long and weigh about five pounds.
An interesting thing in the conch's life is its friendship with the little conchfish that swims right into its shell in the daytime and then leaves at night. Another resident is a small crab that clings to the conch's lip and remains there, gathering food that floats by.
The Bible tells us, "Thou [the Lord] hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." Rev. 4:11. It is not difficult for us to understand His pleasure in these creatures and the beautiful homes He has given them. But did you know He has taken pleasure in creating you, too? We know this is true because He has said, "My delights were with the sons of men." Prov. 8:31.
It is also His desire that we find our delight in Him, the One who is so loving to us and died to save us from our sins. Have you answered the wonderful invitation of God: "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him"? Psa. 37:4,5. There is no true happiness without knowing Him as your Savior.

An Unusual Fish Hatchery

"Lord, Thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is." Acts 4:24
Among the islands of the South Pacific, there are some unusual and pretty little fish called the mouthbrooding bettas. Only three or four inches long, they are busy little fish with a most unusual way of hatching their young.
Most fish prepare a place to spawn (deposit their eggs), and then after spawning swim away and forget them. But not the faithful betta. Somehow the female fish lets the male know when she is ready to spawn. He stays close beside her and catches the eggs on the back of his fins. He is very good at this and is able to catch nearly all of them.
After spawning, the female swims to her mate and with her mouth takes one egg from his fins and approaches him as though to give him a kiss. Instead, she blows the egg into his mouth! Then she goes back for another egg, repeating this process until his mouth is stuffed with all the eggs.
My, what a mouthful he has! But, surprisingly, he doesn't swallow one of them. He casually swims around, usually for four or five days, until the eggs hatch and the baby fish swim out of his mouth.
With some species the female does the mouth-incubating after the male collects the eggs and puts them in her mouth. With other species the parent carrying the eggs has to swim around for two, three or even four weeks, waiting for them to hatch. In all betta species, both parents stay near the baby fish after they are hatched. If danger threatens, both parents open their mouths and the "small fry" promptly swim inside for safety. Of course, they soon grow too big for this hiding place and have to look after themselves.
We might ask, "When did they learn to raise their little ones this way?" The answer is that this is another example of the way in which the Lord God has instructed His creatures. God gave them instincts for this when He created them. From the very day of their creation, they have followed the pattern of life He designed for them.
His ways with men are ways of love and direction that are not known to the rest of His creation. David the psalmist, enjoying His love, declared, "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!" (Psa. 139:17). The greatest display of His love was in providing a Savior who died on Calvary's cross. There He paid the penalty for the sins of all who see their need of having their sins forgiven and accept His work in faith. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). Have you done this?

The Melodious Frog

"He [looks] to the ends of the earth, and [sees] under the whole heaven." Job 28:24
Most people who live in the city have never had the pleasure of listening to frogs sing. During warm spring and summer nights, their chorus is delightful to hear.
Most frogs spend their lives in or near water, but some are land residents. These must seek out damp places to live, since their skin requires constant moisture. They have special glands which help keep their skin moist by supplying a coating which slows moisture evaporation. This makes their skin seem cold and wet to the touch.
Frogs have no ears, and their protruding eyes are only attracted to moving objects. However, they have sensitive organs that transmit sound, and they also have a good sense of smell. All frogs are excellent swimmers.
In parts of Africa frogs disappear when their ponds dry up; they bury themselves in the bottom of the pond. They can exist like this for months. Then when torrential rains come and the ponds fill again, they come out of hiding. Seeing frogs after a rainstorm, superstitious people mistakenly think they have come from the sky.
The females lay thousands of eggs in the spring, floating them in water in large jelly-like masses. Warmed by the sun, the eggs soon hatch into tadpoles. The fish-like tadpoles do not look like frogs. Their fat, little bodies have long tails but no legs. Nor do they have eyelids or lungs. They remain this way for many weeks, breathing like fish through their four pairs of gills. Eventually hind legs grow—just little "buds" in front of the tail at first—soon followed by front legs.
Then eyelids and jaws develop, and the tail gets shorter and shorter as it is absorbed. Finally, when the four legs have developed, the tail absorbs completely. The gills also disappear and lungs develop, changing it into an air-breathing frog. It announces the change by croaking, a habit it continues the rest of its life.
But think about this: Where frogs live in moist vegetation and cannot get to water, the eggs are laid in damp leaves or rotten wood. These do not hatch out as tadpoles but as tiny frogs, with the frog parts fully formed! It is easy to see that the Lord God, the Creator, made this special provision for these particular frogs.
As the opening verse says, the Lord God sees each part of His creation at all times and supplies even frogs and tadpoles with everything they need. King Solomon knew that God is watching over people as well and wrote, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Prov. 15:3).
When the Lord God looks so kindly on you, does He see someone who loves Him, knows Him as Savior, and thanks Him for His great kindness?

Some Unusual Frogs

"The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." Psa. 111:2
There are thousands of kinds of frogs. The tiniest one, a tree-dweller, is less than half an inch long. The largest frog in the world is the giant frog of Queensland, Australia, which is almost twelve inches long. It is so huge that it can swallow a rat! The largest frog in North America is the bull frog, which is more than six inches long. It can stay underwater a long time by absorbing oxygen from the water through its skin.
Tree frogs have suction cups on their toes which are moistened with a sticky substance. One kind of tree frog in the tropics is so well camouflaged that it is almost impossible to distinguish it from the leaves. It lives in the tops of tall trees and never comes to the ground. These frogs are clever builders; they cement leaves together to collect pools of rainwater in which they lay their eggs.
The four-inch, green Bornean flying frog has skin between its toes that stretches out, enabling it to make long, parachute-like leaps.
Most frogs dig with their front feet, but the European spadefoot digs with specially designed back feet. If in danger, it will quickly disappear backwards into a hole it has dug.
The female pouched tree frog has pouches on her back. She lays about a dozen eggs at a time. The male picks up these eggs with his hind feet and places them in these pouches, where they remain until they hatch as tadpoles.
In another species, the male takes on the responsibility of hatching the eggs. As the eggs are laid by the female, he swallows them. The eggs pass into a special pouch in his throat. They incubate there until they hatch and swim out of the father's mouth.
The male midwife frog takes care of eggs in another way. He takes the eggs from the female, wraps them around his hind legs, then scoops a hole in the mud where he waits while they incubate. After a few weeks, he jumps into the water with the eggs still wrapped around his legs. The force of the water breaks open the eggs, and the tadpoles swim out.
The Lord was pleased to create such an interesting variety of frogs, and we know He takes care of them day by day. But for men, women, boys and girls who know Him as their Savior, His care is even greater. It was shown in the great love that led Him to die on Calvary to save them from their sins. He tells them, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye" (Psa. 32:8).
Have you put your trust in Him? and do you now ask Him to be your guide through life?

The Crocodile's Friend

"Thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast." Psa. 36:6
We are all familiar with the vicious-looking jaws and teeth of the crocodile, which are able to rip apart the flesh of almost any animal or even a human. But while these teeth are very strong and sharp, they sometimes become infested with leeches and other parasites. However, God in His wonderful creation has provided an unusual way to remove these parasites from the crocodile's teeth.
At times a crocodile will crawl onto a bank of the Nile River and lie with its jaws wide open, sometimes going to sleep in that position. Soon a little African bird, the spurwing plover (sometimes called the crocodile bird), comes along and sees the open mouth as an invitation to dinner. It will fly down and enter right into those terrible-looking jaws! It hops around the inside of the crocodile's mouth, pecking out and eating all the parasites.
What an amazing thing this is! The crocodile usually snaps its jaws closed on anything that touches them—except when it is the crocodile bird. Somehow it knows that this bird is its friend, and it will not harm the bird.
This bird helps the crocodile in other ways besides cleaning its teeth; it feeds on insects living on the crocodile's body. And flies are always bothering these big creatures too. The flies attack the crocodile’s eyes and sometimes cause sores to develop. This little bird goes after those flies too.
It is doubtful that either the bird or the crocodile behave this way because of any real friendship, but rather because there are benefits for both of them. Yet we cannot help but wonder at this unusual partnership. It is another example of how the Creator God watches over all creation.
How does this little bird know it will not be crushed in the jaws of the big reptile? What keeps the crocodile from snapping its jaws shut when the bird is inside? The answer is that this partnership was arranged by God, whose interest is not only in creating, but also in taking care of all His creatures.
While the crocodile does not harm the little plover, it will quickly attack anything else. The crocodile's habits remind us of an enemy whose evil ways can trap us. The Bible warns us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). This enemy wants to keep our thoughts away from God, knowing that this will lead to unhappiness and judgment. Our protection, through faith, is in the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, who "is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Heb. 7:25). Do you have the Savior's protection?

Flesh-Eating Plants

"I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember Thy wonders." Psa. 77:11
Many animals, birds and insects eat plants, but did you know there are some plants that eat insects? How remarkable this is, because plants cannot travel from one place to another to capture their food, and they do not have eyes or ears to help them.
One example of a flesh-eating plant is the sundew that grows in certain swamps. It gets its name from drops of sticky fluid on its leaves that glitter in sunlight like drops of dew. The leaves are also covered with small red hairs. If a fly or bug lands on these hairs, it is trapped by the sticky fluid. Immediately all the hairs near that spot fold in around the insect and hold it captive. The plant then absorbs its prey into its system, and the hairs go back in place to wait for another victim.
Another one is the butterwort which has fleshy leaves that produce a sticky substance. When an insect lands on a leaf, the edges curl in and trap it. The insect dies and is digested by the plant.
The pitcher plant has pitcher-shaped leaves that form a trap for insects. The lower edges of its leaves fold together to form a tube. The top edges are open and allow rain water to collect in the bottom of the tube. The pitcher produces a sweet juice on the inside that attracts insects. It also grows bristly hairs at the top of the pitcher and they all point downward. Once an insect lands in search of the sweet juice, it passes over these hairs pointing downward which prevent it from crawling back out. The insect eventually falls into the water at the bottom and drowns. In time, the plant digests the insect.
One insect we would like to see trapped by this plant is the mosquito. But the female can fly right down into the pitcher, lay her eggs in the liquid, and then fly back out safely, just like a helicopter. After the larvae hatch and grow, the new adult mosquitos escape the same way.
A certain wasp, in some parts of the South, bites a hole in the bottom of the pitcher, allowing the rain water to drain out. Then it crawls through the hole, making its nest inside without harm. How did the wasp learn this trick? Only the Creator God could give it this knowledge.
These unusual plants certainly have no intelligence to figure out ways of capturing food. They are another example of the wonders of God's creation. Only God could provide food for these plants.
We are reminded that the devil also has many traps in which he catches those who are not careful. If we know the Lord Jesus as our Savior and walk close to Him, He is able to protect us from evil. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:5-6).

A Fish Family from the South

"Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee." Job 12:8.
In South America there are many kinds of fish, ranging in size from tiny to huge. One of these, a three-inch resident of the Amazon River, is given the difficult name of Aequidens curviceps. It is brightly colored-blue on top, green underneath, with a red border running around its middle, and, to add variety, its fins and tail are yellow.
A pair of these spends much time looking for a place on the stream bottom to produce their young. Once they have chosen a spot, both go to, work cleaning away all dirt, pebbles and rubbish. When satisfied that their nest is ready, the female swims slowly over it, laying hundreds of eggs in neat orderly rows. The male follows closely behind her, covering them with a substance called "milt."
Most fish lay their eggs and then forget about them, but not these parents. One of them always stays close by, constantly fanning the eggs with its fins and occasionally taking each egg in its lips to clean it.
Just four days before the little ones are going to come out of their eggs, the adults get busy scooping saucer-like depressions in the stream bottom. When the babies hatch, the excited parents divide them into groups and lead them away from their birthplace to these new spots. There they are hidden from the eyes of bigger fish which would find them a good meal.
The newly-born fish are nourished for several days by absorbing their egg sacs. But this soon disappears, and the babies have to find their own food. So the tiny fish start swimming away from the nest, perhaps not aware their parents have not yet left. If the babies wander too far away, one of the parents goes after them, picks them up in its mouth and brings them back to home base. There it spits them out and perhaps gives them the idea that they'd better not wander so far away next time. But, of course, eventually they are strong enough and experienced enough to take care of themselves, and then the parents leave them.
What a great variety exists among all of God's creatures! The Bible tells us that the Lord created all things "for His pleasure," and it seems He has taken great delight in bringing so many kinds of fish into the world. If evolutionists were right, by now there would be perhaps just one species of fish remaining, because of what they call "survival of the fittest." But the thousands of varieties of fish throughout the world are proof that their theories are false and foolish. Through the centuries every fish throughout the world has obeyed God's command to "bring forth after his kind," and they will continue to do so in the future.
We cannot trust men's imaginations! The Scriptures speak wisely, saying: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." Psa. 118:8.

A Few Facts About Bats

"The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works." Psa. 145:9
Most of us have heard how a bat can fly about in total darkness and never hit an object that might be in its way. Experiments were tried, blindfolding these creatures and turning them loose in rooms strung with piano wire, twine and other things. The bat just flew all around these obstacles and never once touched them.
God has furnished the bat with a "radar system" far more sensitive than any that man has invented. A bat produces a sound with its mouth that is so high pitched that humans cannot hear its full range. These sound waves strike objects in its path of flight and send back echoes to the bat's ears. The echoes tell the bat how it must turn to avoid colliding with objects or with each other.
After spending perhaps thirty minutes cleaning itself, this furry little mammal usually sleeps hanging upside down with its wings draped around its body like a cloak. (They are not dirty creatures as many people think.)
God has given bats a sense of approaching winter with its scarcity of food. Some migrate to warmer climates, up to a thousand miles away. Others gorge on insects and put on a layer of fat, then find a dark place, often a cave, where they hang by their hind feet and hibernate for three to six months. During this time, the fat stored in their bodies sustains them until warm weather returns. Then they become active once again and are able to find insects to eat that also have become plentiful.
Although bats are rather strange-looking creatures, they are beneficial to man in destroying vast quantities of harmful insects. It is estimated that they eat half their weight in insects in one night.
Bats are not able to question and understand their ways of life, and they are not able to develop such wonderful abilities by themselves. God is the One who has created them, and He watches over them, providing their skills and caring for them in all their unusual ways. They carry on many of their activities in the dark, and they are well equipped for this. We, too, by nature love a form of darkness that shuts us out of God's blessings: "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).
When the Lord Jesus came into the world, He was "the light of the world" (John 8:12), and He invites everyone to come out of darkness into His wonderful light. When we accept Him as our Savior, He delights to give us a new title—"children of light" (1 Thess. 5:5). Then we have the privilege of shining for Him.

Africa's Flying Squirrel

"I will meditate also of all Thy work, and talk of Thy doings....Thou art the God that doest wonders." Psa. 77:12,14
It is easy to see how the African flying squirrel got its name, even though it is not really a squirrel nor does it actually fly. It lives high in the trees of Africa and is rarely seen, because it is active mostly at night.
This flying squirrel is about the size of an American gray squirrel with a bushy tail as long as its body. The Creator gave this pretty little fellow smooth, soft, mole-like fur. He also supplied it with several special features for its survival.
One of these features is a fold of skin on each side of the body that connects the front and back legs. When the squirrel stretches out its legs, the folds of skin also stretch to form gliding "wings." It seems to be flying, but it is actually gliding.
Because the folds of skin are attached so securely to its body, this squirrel cannot walk or run. Most of its traveling is done by gliding from one tree to another. When ready to glide, it lowers its head and pushes off with its hind legs. Using its bushy tail as a rudder, it glides through the air to a lower point on another tree. Anyone watching this spectacular glide would think it would crash. But at the last instant, it turns and lands head up, ready to explore the new tree. This is the way the Lord God created this flying squirrel, and even the young do not have to practice these moves.
This animal has an unusual method of climbing trees. Like a measuring worm, it grasps the trunk with its front claws, arches its body, and pulls up both hind feet. Then, with the claws of the hind feet clinging tightly, the front feet let go and move upward. In spite of this awkward way of climbing, it moves quickly up the tree. It is helped in its climb by tough scales covered with sharp, hard spikes which are found near where the tail and body are joined. These spikes dig into the trunk, not only helping the hind legs to hold tightly, but also helping to push the body upward.
God has made a way of life for each of His creatures. Man, God's special creation, has been told in the Bible of two ways. Man is warned in Prov. 14:12 that "there is a way which [seems] right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death." But in John 14:6, the Lord Jesus is called "the way, the truth, and the life." He is also called the "new and living way" by which we can "draw near [to God] with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:20,22). Which way are you following?

The Beautiful Darters

"Thou hast made... the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and Thou preservest them all." Neh. 9:6
Darters are fish from one to eight inches long and are of the perch family. They have this name because of their swift darting movements from one resting place to another. Many live in streams throughout the United States, but their largest numbers are in the Ozark Mountains of the south-central United States. Darters seem to favor those clean mountain streams with the shallow but cold, swift water that races over the rocky bottoms. Most live right in the rapids where they catch insects and other small creatures for food.
There are many species of darters, each with its own distinctive coloring. The stippled darter is one of the prettiest. Throughout most of the year it has transparent blue fins and tail and an olive-brown body with dark stripes on top. But in the spawning months of April and May, the male makes an amazing change. His fins and tail turn bright blue with a fringe of deep orange. The body loses its olive color and turns a pretty mottled blue, silver and gray on the upper half, and the lower half turns a brilliant crimson.
Another good example is the Missouri saddled darter. Again in the spawning season, the male loses its olive-brown coloring and changes to a brilliant green with bright orange bands. When the spawning season is over, he gradually changes back to his original colors until the next year.
While the darters are putting on this brilliant color display, other little fish (about minnow size) sharing the streams go through similar changes. The hornyhead chub turns deep yellow; the bleeding shiner becomes crimson; the redbelly dace turns from silver to bright red with two black stripes.
In many ways these brightly colored fish look like tropical fish seen in aquariums, but they are in no way related. Tropical fish keep their bright colors year-round; these others display their bright colors only in the spring spawning season. Tropicals are rather slow swimmers and used to comfortably warm water; the northern species are active and hardy, since they live in swift waters that are often icy cold. The Creator has made each species to fit in perfectly with its surroundings.
What a lovely display this is of the Creator's purposes in adding beauty and variety to all His creation. We know each creature was a complete work when the Lord God made it, and when He did so, He "saw that it was good" (Gen. 1).
Let us never forget that "all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). Nor should we neglect the Bible's good instruction: "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth" (Eccl. 12:1).

Who Likes Snakes?

"And the Lord God said unto the serpent...upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." Gen. 3:14.
God was displeased because Satan, disguised as a serpent (or snake), had deceived Eve and brought sin into the world. He pronounced the curse in Gen. 3:14 as a constant reminder of that time.
There are over 2500 species of snakes. About one-tenth of them are poisonous. Sizes range from five inches to great anacondas and pythons, 30 to 40 feet long, that can swallow a deer or wild pig whole.
A snake would be handicapped without ears, nose, feet, legs, hands or arms, except that God has shown His kindness. In spite of the curse, God has provided it with means of getting along without these aids. In place of ears it has nerves that are sensitive to ground vibrations. Its sense of smell (aided by a flicking tongue) is keen. A change in temperature tells it when something is close by, and it easily locates whatever it is even on the darkest night.
It has flexible vertebrae (its backbone) which enable it to writhe, crawl and coil. Scales on the underpart of its body, overlapping like shingles, provide means of moving over the ground. Each scale hooks onto a rough surface, so the snake can pull itself along. When in a hurry, the snake presses against rocks, tree trunks, etc., to thrust itself forward.
A snake's mouth is fitted with hinged jaws joined with elastic ligaments. This enables the jaws to open very wide and swallow objects of great size. Eggs are a favorite, and by unhinging its jaws a snake can swallow eggs without breaking them until they are well inside its body. Its stomach also has a special ability to digest egg shells, bones, feathers, fur and other animal and bird parts.
A snake never stops growing. As it increases in size and its skin becomes too tight, it makes a hole in its skin by rubbing its snout against a rough stone. Pushing its head through this hole, twisting and wriggling, it peels the old skin back over its tail, shedding it. It does this several times a year.
Snakes do not attack humans unless frightened or provoked. The Creator has made them helpful to mankind in their search for food because they eat rats, gophers, mice and other small rodents. A small snake will be quite content with a good meal every week or ten days. Larger snakes can easily survive on six or seven big dinners a year.
Like the snake in the garden of Eden, man also displeases God in his behavior. This is made clear in the Bible, which says, "There is none that seeketh after God....There is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Rom. 3:11-12). Yet God shows great mercy and kindness to all mankind, as His Word tells us: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Do you know the joy of having your sins forgiven through faith in the Lord Jesus?

It Fooled the "Wise Ones"

"It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." 1 Cor. 1:19
Many years ago, the fossil of a strange fish was found on a shore of the Indian Ocean. It was an unusual fossil with a hollow spine and, unlike other fish, had paddle-shaped fins attached to its body by "stubs." It was given the name coelacanth. After much study, scientists decided that this type of fish had been extinct for 30 million years and was the great-grandfather of present-day fish. They thought that the way its fins protruded showed it was about to change to a land animal with legs and arms. Other identical fossils were found, but no one ever thought anything resembling this could be alive today. They all thought that it had evolved into other creatures long ago.
Imagine the embarrassment of these "experts" when, in 1938, a live coelacanth was caught off the coast of South Africa. All theories about this "extinct" fish were shown to be wrong, as others were caught and exhibited all over the world. Furthermore, the living ones were exact duplicates of the fossils, with identical fins and tails. They had not evolved but had continued just as God had made them since the day He created them.
The coelacanth is indeed an unusual fish. The largest one caught weighed 209 pounds and was five feet long, steel blue in color with heavy scales. Seven paddle-shaped fins protrude like limbs, and it has an extra rudder at the tail. Living in depths of 650-2000 feet, it has been supplied with glowing eyes. This fish is just another example of the interesting variety of creatures that God has put on the earth and in the seas.
We can always trust and believe the Bible, the Word of God, in everything that it tells us, and we should reject the incorrect teaching of evolution, which denies God's hand in creation. Those who teach it usually omit the fact that evolution is a theory based on ideas and not on facts. Since they cannot prove those ideas scientifically or in any other way, it is evident that Satan is using evolution to try to take away the truth of the Bible and the knowledge that God is the Creator. The Bible tells us, "By Him were all things created" (Col. 1:16). It also says, with respect to where our hearts should be, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10).
This is the promise of God for everlasting life. Do you truly believe and accept His Word in your heart, and have you confessed this to others?
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